KENDALLVILLE, Ind. (WANE) – It wasn’t a typical call for Kendallville Police Chief Rob Wiley. Friday he and other Hoosier officials and parents spoke to the White House about the opiate epidemic in Indiana.
“It’s not a meth problem, a heroin problem or a cocaine problem,” Wiley said on the phone. “It’s an addiction problem.”
President Barack Obama is asking congress to approve $1.1 billion in funding to provide more resources to fight prescription drug and heroin abuse. Of that, $19 million would go to Indiana.
Wiley was invited to be on the call because of a program his department rolled out with Northeast Indiana Rehab Institute for when police come into contact with addicts wanting help.
“When we come into contact with those individuals we have a direct line to counselors that we can call right from the scene, get them in touch with [the addicts], and get them that help immediately,” Wiley explained to the participants of the call.
Getting addicts help instead of arresting them isn’t something police have always done, but Wiley said law enforcement is changing to become more of a problem-solving agency.
“In Kendallville, we have about 22,500 calls for service every year, and only two percent of those end up with us taking enforcement action,” Wiley said.
In Wiley’s eyes, $19 million to fight the epidemic and provide more treatment options will help everyone.
“To make our community better and to make it a better place for everybody to live we have to be willing to help those people,” Wiley said.
The White House is conducting these calls across the country.