War on drug abuse in Franklin County

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GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)- The fight started last summer when the opiate task force was formed. Then earlier this month, Sheriff Donelan wrote a letter to Governor Patrick asking for help.

An increase in drug overdoses and deaths has both residents and law enforcement concerned about the future of Franklin County towns. Sheriff Donelan told 22News there has been an increase in crime, which he thinks is related to substance abuse.

He said, “Virtually every crime you see in this area, whether it’s breaking into a store, armed robbery of a convenience store.  We had three or four bank robberies here in Franklin County and typically these are heroin addicts looking to get enough money for their next bag of heroin.”

There has also been an increase in people needing medical treatment. There were eight overdoses in one weekend, and several addicts have died. Residents are alarmed at the change taking place in their county.

Patrick Kenney has been living in Greenfield for over 30 years. He told 22News he is shocked at the direction the city is going in. When asked about his concerns for his community, he replied, “It’s sad. It’s really sad. I don’t understand it. I just don’t understand.”

Sheriff Donelan recommends a three-pronged action plan, that includes educating the youth, working with doctors on pain management, and reviewing treatment options for addicts.

The Community Health Care Initiative will sponsor a public forum this Thursday, January 30 at 6 p.m. at Greenfield Middle School. Health professionals and law enforcement personnel will be available to open the dialogue on drug abuse.

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