EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)-- It’s a number that has continued to grow in western Wisconsin since the early nineties. The use of methamphetamine in Eau Claire County alone has increased nearly 150% in the past four years.
Gary King, District Attorney for Eau Claire County created the Meth Response Committee a few months ago, to get to the root of the problem.
“It got to a point where these conversations were happening so often, on the topic of methamphetamine that it just cried out for some additional action. We formed a three tier approach to how we were going to go about this work. One being a community outreach subcommittee, the second part is really the court system response to cases, and then also a post disposition subcommittee,” says King.
The committee is made up of members from the counties law enforcement agencies, criminal justice system, and health department, among many others.
“It’s really a cross section of all of the different people who deal with this topic on a daily basis,” says King.
Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer says currently, the issue isn’t getting any better.
“We have to let people know how huge this problem is in our community. We can’t arrest our way out of this problem. We have to, number one, educate the public, then secondly, look at what our treatment abilities are within the county, and then if not treatment, can we do something within the jail,” says Cramer.
Cramer says crimes like burglaries are increasingly becoming linked to meth use. He says, now, the department has been working closely with the district attorney to narrow in on long term solutions.
“This drug is affecting everyone in this community, today, right now. It’s affecting not only the people who are using the drug itself, it affects people whose home is being burglarized, it affects retailers who are having their products taking from people who are trying to get money from their next drug purchase,” says King.
“This is a community issue and a big public awareness campaign. We are taking this drug seriously,” says Cramer.