Wisconsin Counties Turn Attention to Fentanyl Crisis

by Benjamin Yount


Two communities in southeast Wisconsin are looking to do more about fentanyl.

Waukesha County on Monday declared a community health crisis over the spike in fentanyl deaths, while Washington County said it will ask voters to okay a new anti-crime task force to keep the drug out of schools.

County leaders in both counties on Monday joined to say they are turning their focus to fentanyl and the damage it is doing in the Milwaukee suburbs,

“Eighty-seven percent of all our fatal overdose deaths this year involve fentanyl. This is a staggering statistic our county can’t ignore,” Washington County Sheriff Martin Schulteis said.

Washington County executive Josh Schoemann said that is part of the selling point of a ballot question that asks for more money to fight fentanyl.

“Our proposed Washington County Anti-Crime Plan referendum will put deputies in schools, add detectives to the Drug Task Force, and partner social worker-deputy teams to co-respond to mental health and substance use related calls. This plan gives the residents of Washington County the option to choose a proactive approach to combat the fentanyl crisis we are facing,” Schoemann said.

Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow on Monday declared a community health crisis because of fentanyl.

Drug-related deaths have become Waukesha County’s leading non-natural cause of death for adults ages 18-45 over the past two years. In Waukesha County there were a record 95 drug-related deaths in 2020, and at least another 92 deaths in 2021.

“Many people think they are taking prescription medication, but they are taking fentanyl instead,” Farrow said.

The community health crisis declaration means Waukesha County will now move forward with an overdose fatality review, adopt a new strategy to track the county’s fight against fentanyl, and focus its share of the state’s opioid settlement money on Narcan and other overdose prevention efforts.

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Benjamin Yount is a contributor to The Center Square. 
Photo “Fentanyl” by r. nial bradshaw. CC BY 2.0.


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