Ozaukee County sees spike in heroin overdoses

CREATED May 16, 2014

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PORT WASHINGTON – You never fully realize how big of an issue heroin use is until it's in your hometown.

"It's a problem that suburban and rural Wisconsin is feeling pretty harshly," explained Lieutenant Rod Galbraith, who runs Ozaukee County’s drug task force.

His job is to keep drugs off the streets. His top priority is eliminating heroin use in his county.  That's not an easy task.

Galbraith tells TODAY’S TMJ4 four people overdosed on heroin just last week in Saukville, Port Washington, Cedarburg, and Mequon.

"What it tells me is that I think this problem's going to get worse before it gets better, but hopefully, we're on the right track,” he said.

Galbraith's team is hard at work. Exhibit A: Larry Pettigrew, who is charged with selling heroin to detectives in Mequon. Authorities caught him after a manhunt last week.

The work continues for cops, but community members and families also need to join the fight.

"Law enforcement alone isn't going to solve the problem. We need to fight the battle on many fronts," Galbraith said.

That includes education.

A number of suburbs have hosted heroin summits to work to change the culture.  That's a challenge, but it's a challenge that could save lives.

It could also keep detectives from knocking down your door.

“We want to send a message that if you're involved in it, from a law enforcement perspective, we're going to do everything we can to find you, prosecute you and send you to jail,” Galbraith said.

NOTE: 'Narcan,' a drug used to counteract heroin addiction, saved two of the four overdose patients.