FOX 32 NEWS - After meeting for ten months, local officials on Thursday offered recommendations aimed at reducing the growth and deadly toll of heroin and opioid addiction.
Some are specific and promising, but others not so much.
One Task Force recommendation in particular has already delivered big results in West Suburban DuPage County: a dramatic 28% drop in deaths from heroin overdoses.
“This little nasal spray is literally a life saver,” Alderman Edward Burke.
It's naloxone, which is a heroin antidote that first responders in DuPage County used to reduce the deadly toll of opioids.
The report urged the Chicago Fire Department's entire fleet to carry Naloxone.
Despite a half-century of the so-called War on Drugs, illegal narcotics are widely available in every neighborhood. Drug enforcement, though, focuses on just a few.
The report included maps showing the vast majority of heroin-related arrests are in poor neighborhoods - exactly where the vast majority of Chicago's shootings are.
Among those who predict street violence would decline if America ended the War on Drugs is the Libertarian Party's Presidential candidate, Gary Johnson. Libertarians compare current drug policy to the failed prohibition of alcohol that, in the 1920s and '30s, made Al Capone and other gangsters multimillionaires. When prohibition was repealed, murder in Chicago dropped by more than 50%.
“I don't see that comparison. Because you are dealing with something far more potent,” Mayor Emanuel said. “What we're going to respond with is make sure that there's more treatment, more education, more ability to deal with from a public health basis.”
“I don't think there's an easy solution here. If I thought so, I would embrace Gary Johnson's position on this,” said DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin.
Officials insist that somehow, some day they will be able to stop the Sinaloa Cartel and others that have made billions of dollars by supplying illegal narcotics to the Chicago area. But there are no specifics yet, just a call to develop "innovative strategies.
The heroin task force also recommended providing naloxone to those in addiction treatment programs, including when they're released from jail.