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A collaborative approach to fentanyl

Green Bay Police Commander Kevin Warych speaks on Wednesday, May 29, at the Green Bay Police department after U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin hosted a private meeting with representatives from local public/private health and safety. Kris Leonhardt photo
Green Bay Police Commander Kevin Warych speaks on Wednesday, May 29, at the Green Bay Police department after U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin hosted a private meeting with representatives from local public/private health and safety. Kris Leonhardt photo

By Kris Leonhardt

Editor-in-chief

GREEN BAY – On Wednesday, May 29, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin hosted a private meeting with representatives from the Green Bay Police Department, Green Bay Fire Department, Brown County Sherriff’s Department, Brown County, Oshkosh Fire Department, Suamico Fire Department, Howard Fire Department, Voices for Recovery, Fond du Lac Fire Department, Ashwaubenon Law Enforcement and other local public/private health and safety leaders to discuss the state’s fentanyl crisis and how to address it.

Following the closed-door meeting, Baldwin said that the No. 1 request she is getting from community public safety leaders is increased resources to address the crisis.

“This is an epidemic that doesn’t see partisan bounds or geographic lines. In both 2021 and 2022, over 1,400 Wisconsinites died of opioid-related overdoses,” Baldwin said.

“The number of total overdose deaths is even higher, but the rest are non-opioid related. And in just two years, thousands of Wisconsin families lost loved ones and get an empty seat at the dining room table. In 2021, over 90% of opioid deaths in Wisconsin were connected to the synthetic opioid fentanyl. That’s the reality with fentanyl one pill can kill.

“Our law enforcement and first responders are on the front lines every day, fighting the fentanyl crisis in Wisconsin, and it’s my job to make sure that they have the tools that they need to do their job safely and save lives.

“This meeting was a unique opportunity to listen to public safety leaders, public health leaders from Brown County and hear what has been challenging and what has been successful in fighting the fentanyl epidemic. I am grateful for their work on the front lines every day and for their partnerships with one another to get to the bottom of this problem.”

Green Bay Police Commander Kevin Warych and other community leaders conveyed their shared commitment to combating the issue.

“This is a conversation that every person in this community is going to want to have as a father, as a friend, as a co-worker, as an associate to many people in this community. This hard conversation, we hope that it continues, not just today but every day because this federal opioid crisis is here in the city and it’s everywhere,” Warych said.

“To give you some context, the amount of calls that the Green Bay Police Department responds to is about 80,000 a year. When we look at the overdoses. The overdose saves that officers participated in in 2021, there were 96 saves. In 2022, there were 93 saves. In 2023, there were 141 saves.

“Sadly, the deaths in these overdoses I’ll give you the statistics just to give you context of why we’re having these conversations and why we’re encouraging the community to educate themselves about this. In 2022, there were 31 deaths related to overdose. In 2023, there were 44.

“All of this could have been prevented. As a community, and again, as anybody in this community, we want to make sure that we bring the education and we bring the awareness so that we can prevent all these tragic incidents from occurring in the city of Green Bay.

“And we are encouraged about the collaboration and the teamwork that we just had in this roundtable discussion with Senator Baldwin of all the great work that all these different organizations are doing because this is a collaborative approach.”

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