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York police chief: Education, prevention key to handling heroin crisis

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Aug 20, 2015 1:45 PM
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Photo by Nick Weiss/WITF

(York) -- Police in this city hit hard by the heroin crisis say they're changing their strategy.

York City Police Chief Wes Kahley is preaching education and prevention, because he says, arresting every drug user isn't going to solve the heroin epidemic.

Instead, his officers are focusing on drug dealers.

62 people died from heroin-related overdoses across York County in 2014, according to the county's coroner.

Kahley says he knew someone who died from an overdose.

"I had a very close friend that I watched grow up that recently passed from a heroin overdose. Was a good kid from a very good family. Did all the right things, played sports, stayed out of trouble and just succumbed to the problem," he says. "So when you start to see, when you personally experience those families, it makes it more personal and you start to understand the addiction issue a little bit differently."

Kahley says officers try to educate kids in schools about heroin.

He also wants the state to find a way to stop drug dealers from staking out halfway houses, where people addicted to drugs go to recover. Because of a lack of regulation, Kahley says, his department often doesn't even know when a halfway home opens in York until officers respond to a call there.

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