A central Minnesota county commissioner is making headlines after saying people dying from drug overdoses in Crow Wing County "gets rid of the problem."
Crow Wing County commissioner Paul Koering made the statement during a March 19 board meeting at the courthouse in Brainerd, during which the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office presented state and county data on an escalating drug overdose issue, specifically methamphetamine overdoses.
The sheriff's office offered a plan to help curb the problem, recommending more intensive community outreach, more proactive enforcement measures, collaboration with EMS, additional investigators, and faster response times to medical emergencies.
Data from Crow Wing County reveals meth seizures have skyrocketed over the last five years, going from 76 grams of the narcotic seized in 2014 to 2,089 grams in 2018.
At some point during the board meeting, Koering is quoted by the Brainerd Dispatch as saying:
“I don’t know why we’re in such a big hurry to save somebody like this. I guess it sounds kind of harsh, but it kind of gets rid of a problem, in my mind.”
In 2018, medical personnel and deputies responded to approximately 60 overdose reports in Crow Wing County.
Bring Me The News has reached out to Koering for comment.
Minnesota fighting to stop opioid addiction
Crow Wing County is also attempting to mitigate opioid overdose deaths, which, like many other places in Minnesota and across the country, have been on the rise.
The Minnesota Department for Health released new data earlier this month showing that 422 people died from opioids in Minnesota in 2017.
One Minnesota city, Little Falls, which is south of Crow Wing County in neighboring Morrison County, was featured in Buzzfeed News recently for its efforts in combating opioid addiction and overdoses by spending state money to treat opioid addiction as a disease, rather than a crime.
You can read the feature here, with some of the programs implemented including limiting prescription refills, increasing access to addiction medications, and putting addicts in treatment instead of jail.