This week's program featured Cloquet's Chief of Police, Steve Stracek, who has been in Cloquet for 14 months. Before coming to Cloquet he was with the Duluth Police Department, developing a 23 year career in law enforcement. He is a farm boy, originally from Staples, MN, is married and has 3 children: 2 twin boys  and a daughter studying voice in a Chicago college.
Steve began his presentation by saying that he would discuss issues related to the use of opiates in Cloquet and the region. The problem is that we have a growing base of people addicted to opiates, including people taking prescriptions for pain. One way to combat the prescription problem is for patients to understand dosing in 
their prescriptions and to realize there are other ways to stop pain without medications. The medical community is getting on board slowly to reduce the number of people on opiate medications. The customer base for opiates is growing as people sell painkillers or run out of prescription medications and turn to heroin. Steve has a career in drug enforcement, serving on the Duluth Task Force and having a background in public health and violent crime. In Duluth in 2007-8 there was a meth problem, followed by  prescription drug peddlers. Gang members in Detroit saw a market here where they could control pricing and charge higher rates. A typical drug addict for opiates is a teen or late teen still living with their families. Opiates are highly addictive, whether it is experimental or a doctor's prescription. Overdosing is not always about taking too much, it's about what percentage is in the cut. Since it varies, the user doesn't know how much is in each dose. In Cloquet in 2015, they have had 99 medical emergency calls with 18 being overdoses and 2 deaths. Twenty percent of children 12 years of age and over take drugs to get high. Locally, trying to step up enforcement isn't enough. The focus must be on drug dealers more than drug users. Drug Court and the Carlton County Task Force helps, as has the Opiate Forum held at the Forestry Center. Steve concluded by saying that he expects the problem will get better and will peak at some point soon. We can be thankful someone with Steve's experience is on the job in Cloquet.
Excerpts taken from the Cloquet Rotary log, edited by Rachel Martin.