CUYAHOGA COUNTY -- The heavy hitters came out swinging today and announced a plan to battle the suburban heroin epidemic that has hit this county.
"Heroin deaths have gone up every year in the past five years. The trend couldn't be worse. It's happening all over the county," said Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County Executive.
FitzGerald paraded top county officials at a news conference at the county administration building downtown to announce the formation of a heroin initiative, aimed at stopping heroin use and reducing the number of heroin-related deaths.
The county is on track to have 160 heroin fatalities this year, or 300 per cent more than the number reported in 2007.
"This might be the first year we write the word 'heroin' on a death certificate more often than we write the word 'homicide,'" said Dr. Thomas Gilson, the Cuayhoga County's Medical Examiner.
FitzGerald says the county plans to assign more law enforcement officers to a heroin detail.
The action plan also includes: more aggressive intervention programs for at-risk groups, an examination of programs in Ohio and around the country that are successfully combatting heroin use, and a critical analysis of heroin deaths locally to see how they might have been prevented.
Wednesday's announcement comes two months after an in-depth, two-part report on suburban heroin use by Channel 3 News Investigator Tom Meyer.
In those reports, former heroin addicts said the potentially deadly drug is everywhere, including the nicest suburbs in Cleveland.