VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has announced some policy proposals to fight the heroin and opioid crisis in the state.
Herring outlined new programs and initiatives on Monday at the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Virginia Beach.
"The opioid crisis is the most pressing public safety and public health crisis confronting Virginia today. It is a wave that has been building for decades and we're now seeing it wash over communities and families in every corner of the country, and from every walk of life," said Attorney General Herring. "This epidemic doesn't discriminate and it doesn't lend itself to simple solutions like more arrests, or simple messages like 'just stop using.' We have to recognize that this is a complex problem that calls for a multifaceted solution. My team and I have been working on this problem every day for nearly four years, and we're not going to stop because we are still losing too many treasured friends, spouses, siblings, children, and parents to this epidemic."
In the last year alone, there have been more than 1,400 drug overdose deaths in Virginia.
"So, while we have stepped up our prosecutions against dealers and traffickers who are bringing these dangerous drugs like heroin and fentynol and profiting off addiction, we have taken prosecutors to record levels," he said. "But there's so much more that we've got to do in prevention, in education, in treatment, in recovery."
Herring's opponent in the race for attorney general, John Adams, shares much of the same thoughts as Herring when it comes to fighting the crisis. Adams released his Statewide Substance and Overdose Crisis Policy Proposal weeks before Herring formally announced his.
Herring's office says that the attorney general's proposals will be incorporated into a multifaceted approach that includes enforcement, education and prevention.
Herring wants to continue combating this epidemic with law enforcement initiatives, support from the medical community and recovery.
It also includes legislation to encourage reporting of overdoses in progress, expand the availability of naloxone and expand access to the Prescription Monitoring Program.
"The crisis that we're facing is really heartbreaking," Herring said. "When you talk to a family member who's lost a loved one, they talk about how wonderful the person was that they lost, but, the also say they never thought it could happen to them. And the truth is, it could happen to anyone."
Adams' campaign noted that, fatal opioid overdoses have increased 66% in the state during the time that Herring has been in office. In a statement to 13News Now, Adams said:
"Virginia needs real leadership on this issue-not additional politics just before an election."