Marathon Co. "Pushback Against Drug Abuse"

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Heroin use is on the rise in Marathon County and now law enforcement is asking for the community's help in combating the problem. Tuesday, the Marathon County Alcohol and Other Drugs Partnership, or AOD, announced a new campaign to "Pushback" on drugs, such as heroin, in our community.

Since 2010 law enforcement says they have noticed an influx in the number of drug fueled crime in our own backyard. In the City of Wausau alone, patrol officers respond to heroin related incidents on a weekly basis. From an increase in thefts and break-ins to shots fired and homicides, the entire community is being effected by the heroin trade as it and other illicit drugs are trafficked into the area from Chicago, the Twin Cities and Milwaukee.

"Wausau has also become a hub for the northern part of the state. Everything is centered here and moves toward the northern part of the state," Lieutenant Gary Schneck of the Marathon County Sheriff's Department said during the press conference.

"One of the things that's appealing to Wausau is because there isn't a lot of competition or there hasn't been and that's starting to escalate a little bit," Chief Wally Sparks of the Everest Metro Police Department explained.

Over the past 18 months, the Wausau Police Department has responded to 79 heroin related incidents alone. That's not counting the number of incidents the County Drug Unit handles.

Heroin, however, is not just a law enforcement problem. They need the communities help. That's why the AOD is asking the community to join them as they "Pushback Against Drug Abuse."

"Having people know what to look for. Having them engaged with law enforcement. Getting involved with their neighbors. Knowing who's there. Forming that grassroots neighborhood watch, community activism that is really necessary to try and curb this," Chief Sparks told NewsChannel 7.

In cooperation with the AOD, NewsChannel 7 has been digging into this problem and we'll be bringing you a series of special reports on the heroin problem in our area next week.

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