Local Residents Protest Heroin Epidemic
By Joe Bachman
Wisconsin Rapids residents formed a protest at city hall on Monday morning, demanding more warrants and more arrests from local police.
The protest, scheduled for 8:00 a.m. on Mar. 14, saw nine protesters in total demanding to “take our city back” asking that the police department issue increased warrants and make arrests for drug dealers in town within a 24-hour-span. The protest was organized by Steve Abrahamson and former mayoral candidate Chris Marceau.
“What I’d like to see happen is that anytime a dealer gets busted, anything on that property become property of the city, the city auctions it off, and all proceeds go to helping the addicts,” said Abrahamson. “It’s time to take our streets back — It’s pretty sad when people are finding needles in laundromats, and changing rooms of local department stores, and you call the cops and they say ‘pick it up, throw it in the garbage.'” said Abrahamson.
Abrahamson believes that there is enough information on the dealers that detectives should be able to act on making arrests and issuing warrants more frequently. Marceau also believes the police should act on the same information. Marceau has family who battles drug addiction, and wants to see Narcan, a drug that immediately treats overdoses, stocked on all ambulances.
“I’ve talked to some officers, and they say we’ve made a lot of progress — well then let people know so they can get out of here, and let it be known,” said Marceau. “You take one dealer down, and another one will come back, well let’s take twenty down at once and see how many come back. The point is to close the open cases — I’m here to stand up for the people.”
Chief of Police Kurt Heuer offered his thoughts on the protest, and explained that efforts to fight this problem have been ongoing for sometime, as well as efforts of stakeholders in the community coming together to address the issue.
“Law enforcement is continuing to take a very aggressive approach with investigations involving those responsible for bringing drugs into the community, to the extent where we added a second narcotics detective,” said Heuer. “We are also very involved in community awareness and education.”
Heuer stated that there are treatment providers currently at the table discussing what options are available for treatment for these addictions and those afflicted by them. Also in discussion is the effective and proper use of the anti-overdose drug Narcan, efforts to educate the community on how to properly dispose of needles found in the area, and maintaining healthy workplaces and businesses.
Heuer, and Deputy Chief Randy Jahns took time to speak with the organizers of the protest, which ended in the early afternoon.
“Quite honestly, I think we’re talking the same language, but they do things just a bit different,” said Heuer. “We had a good conversation, and I think from both sides a better understanding of where we were coming from — at the end of the day we’re all talking about the same thing, and that’s trying to get the community back to a very healthy place where we can address this heroin, meth, and substance abuse issue together.”