Provided by the Office of Barbara Comstock
Loudoun County, VA – U.S. Representative Barbara Comstock (VA-10th District) in conjunction with Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman, joined Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler, Jr., Leesburg Police Chief Joseph R. Price, Virginia State Police Captain James DeFord, and representatives from the DEA and FBI, State and various members of the Community Services Board and Loudoun County Public Schools to announce the formation of a regional Heroin Operations Team (HOT) in Northern Virginia.
The HOT team will address the rising use of heroin and related overdoses that have impacted citizens in and around Loudoun County. HOT will employ a comprehensive approach that will include enforcement (at all levels), education and prevention by incorporating local, state and federal law enforcement, Loudoun County Public Schools, Loudoun County Department of Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Developmental Services and other entities within the Community Services Board.
Recognizing this growing epidemic, Congresswoman Comstock reached out to Loudoun County Sheriff Chapman to work together on local efforts to curb heroin use and abuse. “We recognize no community is immune to this epidemic. Sadly, those getting caught up in this are often in their 20’s and 30’s and they don’t realize what an addictive and dangerous drug this is and how much stronger the heroin on the street is than it has been in the past,” said Congresswoman Comstock. “We must ensure as a community that we educate and inform and do everything we can to get this poison out of our community and stop those peddling it and help those caught up in this deadly drug,” she added.
Sheriff Chapman, a 23-year veteran of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), extended the initiative to his partners in law enforcement to develop a regional Heroin Operations Team. “The initiative will require a proactive approach, including education on the dangers of heroin and opioid drugs,” said Sheriff Chapman. “The heroin initiative will include a partnership with the community which is an important step to address the heroin epidemic in Northern Virginia,” he added.
As part of the outreach and enforcement efforts, local representatives announced a series of initiatives including a public roundtable discussion to be held in May 2015. The forum will explore the resources needed to address the growing heroin problem in our community, and promote open discussion on efforts we can take as partners in the fight against heroin abuse.
Other initiatives include:
- Development of a toll-free Heroin HOTline where residents can seek help.
- Establishment of a multi-jurisdictional task force that will take a collaborative approach to pooling resources and coordinating investigations or user/drug rings.
- Formation of a community and law enforcement partnership dedicated to stopping the heroin epidemic in Northern Virginia.
- Coordinating public education and outreach to raise public awareness on the dangers of heroin and drug use.
- Continue an aggressive approach on prescription drug abuse which heroin users often site as the gateway for cite use.
The HOT initiative is in response to a growing regional and nationwide heroin epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control, fatal overdoses of heroin have nearly tripled since 2010. In Loudoun County, the number of fatal heroin overdoses nearly doubled in the past two years, from 6 in 2013 to 11 in 2014.