MANITOWOC, WI (WTAQ) - An increase in heroin, morphine and prescription drug abuse coupled with a rise in overdose deaths is leading Manitowoc's mayor to try and come up with a way to curb it.
So far in 2014, Manitowoc police have investigated 7 possible drug overdose deaths including 3 in the last 12 days. Just 5 overdose deaths were investigated all of last year.
“I want to become a community where people around know if you want to deal drugs, you’re not going to do it in Manitowoc because you’re going to get caught,” Mayor Justin Nickels told FOX 11.
Right now, the Manitowoc Police Department has two detectives working with the Manitowoc County Metro Drug Unit.
Nickels says he wants to add an extra detective, along with more prescription drug collection sites for people to keep unused meds out of the wrong hands.
“The fact that we’re seeing so many overdose deaths is alarming,” Nickels said.
Detective Sergeant with Manitowoc Police David Vorpahl says his department's investigators are strained with the spike in overdose deaths being investigated.
“They have been swamped, because opiates are just taking over,” Vorpahl told FOX 11. “Historically it used to be cocaine and marijuana, but now it’s graduated to prescription drugs and people are using it with syringes and things of that nature.”
Nickels said the extra detective would cost the city about $100,000 a year. He plans to include the position in his budget proposal for next year.
Manitowoc Alderman Jason Sladky said he would likely support the extra spending, but wonders if the issue should be approached heavier through the court system.
Vorpahl says investigators have made arrests in two of the overdose death cases this year.
(Additional reporting from FOX 11).