MADISON, Wis. – Law enforcement agencies know what kind of drug activity is happening in their communities, and they know it is a problem when dangerous new substances catch on before the law catches up. This Friday, law enforcement bodies will share what they know about dangerous drug activity in their communities directly with the Wisconsin Controlled Substances Board, which has the authority to add and remove drugs from state-controlled substance schedules.
On November 13, the CSB is hosting the annual Law Enforcement Hearing during its regular meeting at 9:30 a.m. During the hearing, Wisconsin police officers, sheriffs, and prosecutors can share information about drug activity they have observed, including testimony about substances that the CSB could schedule.
After all, not all dangerous drug activity is illegal. Right now, substances chemically similar to fentanyl are available on the internet. They can ship directly to your front door without breaking any Wisconsin laws. That does not mean the substances are less dangerous. It just means that crimes involving them cannot be fully prosecuted, first responders cannot adequately prepare to handle overdoses, and people will likely die using them.
That is why it is so important for the CSB to know what drugs are circulating in Wisconsin communities. When the CSB has evidence of drug activity, it can take necessary steps to schedule those substances. That makes those substances harder to get and creates enforceable penalties for their use and distribution. It also helps EMS teams prepare. When they know which drugs are in their communities, they can train to identify overdoses and administer appropriate emergency care, including antidotes, to keep people alive.
“This hearing is a good opportunity for law enforcement officials to speak directly to the CSB, which has the authority to take action,” said Department of Safety and Professional Services Secretary-designee Dawn Crim. (DSPS provides administrative and operational support to the CSB and its related programming.)
“This hearing creates a direct link between what is happening in our communities and how state government responds.”
At Friday’s meeting, the CSB will also hear from several governmental bodies involved in curbing drug activity and addressing the opioid epidemic. The list of speakers includes the Gov. Tony Evers, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, Secretary-designee Crim, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s Laura Reid, and Sandy Koresch from the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratories. Also, on the agenda are Paul Krupski, the director of Wisconsin’s Opioid Initiatives; Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisolm; Milwaukee Deputy District Attorney Karen Loebel, who oversees cases involving violent crimes and high intensity drug trafficking; and Captain Chris Jushka, special operations commander with the Wisconsin State Patrol.
“While aspects of the drug epidemic vary from region to region, communities across the state are being impacted by it. People are struggling with addiction to heroin, meth, cocaine, and other drugs, and we must keep working to prevent addiction, expand treatment for folks with substance-use disorder, and hold accountable those who break the law,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul. “This hearing is an opportunity to share information and continue improving the state’s response to the evolving drug epidemic.”
Law enforcement, media, and members of the public can register to attend the hearing. Instructions are available on the CSB meetings page.
In addition to supporting the CSB, the Department of Safety and Professional Services issues more than 240 unique licenses, administers dozens of boards and councils that regulate professions, enforces state building codes, runs the state fire prevention program, and maintains the award-winning Wisconsin Enhanced Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which is a key tool in the multi-faceted public health campaign to stem excessive opioid prescribing. A fee-based agency, the Department of Safety and Professional Services is self-sustaining and receives no general fund tax dollars for its day-to-day operations. With five offices and 250 employees throughout Wisconsin, DSPS collaborates with constituents and stakeholders across a wide range of industries to promote safety and advance the economy.