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Viewpoint: Be mindful, alert to heroin epidemic

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of viewpoints about the heroin and opioid crisis sweeping local communities.

Last summer, the city of Red Wing mobilized to practice its emergency response to a simulated toxic chemical spill into the Mississippi River. At the same time the County Board was learning about a far more dangerous toxic spill spreading out onto the streets of Red Wing and Goodhue County.

Heroin is now cheap and available in Red Wing, bringing the terrible effects of opioid addiction into the veins and arteries of our community.

For as little as the cost of a pack of cigarettes, "getting a fix" is ripping up families, abandoning children and fostering crime. This is a dangerous and downward-spiraling situation and we need to do something about it immediately and continuously:

• Be mindful that violence and weapons are part of the drug trade; so, avoid confrontation

• Pay attention to drug trafficking behavior. (Lots of people coming and going for no apparent legal reason.)

• Report suspicious behavior to law enforcement. (Consider logs of dates, times, and license plate numbers.) DO NOT INTERVENE.

• Demand vigilance in investigation and prosecution of heroin and opioid "pushers."

• Support treatment and rehabilitation of addicted victims.

The city of Red Wing and Goodhue County have proven that they can mobilize together against a major water pollution threat. Now is the time for them to mobilize against a far deadlier form of human pollution known as heroin and opioid addiction.

Paul Drotos is a Goodhue County Commissioner