The fight against drug use in region gets added muscle

Lycoming County Coroner Charles Kiessling says that 15 percent of the deaths his office investigates are drug related.

Lycoming County Commissioner Jeff Wheeland says that heroin on local streets is cheaper than a pack of cigarettes.

Lycoming County District Attorney Eric Linhardt says the heroin epidemic is triggered in large part by people addicted to prescription drugs, which serve as a gateway to heroin use.

He also attributes the epidemic to an influx of heroin from Mexico and its availability in a purer and cheaper form. And a more deadly form, we might add.

With these harsh realities in mind, enaction of the Lycoming County Narcotics Enforcement Unit a collaborative effort among state police and local law enforcement personnel seems to be absolute necessity.

Formation of the unit centralizes the battle against illegal drugs into the district attorney’s office and creates access to more funding, which includes $233,525 through the county.

Until now, drug task force activities were operated through the state attorney general’s office.

The new funding stream will pay for five full-time county narcotics detectives to work with the unit.

Williamsport City Police will add two officers for narcotics investigations.

And Williamsport, Old Lycoming Township, Montoursville and Tiadaghton Regional Police are to provide part-time officers to work overtime.

The entire unit will work in conjunction with the state police vice unit out of Troop F in Montoursville.

It’s a solid, practical attack on the area’s top crime problem.

The effort and coordination appear to be there. Now it has to work.

Local people are dying often.