January 24, 2020 - Mayor Tom Henry today joined representatives from The Lutheran Foundation, Fort Wayne Police Department and the City of Fort Wayne’s Community Development Division to announce that another portion of the City’s quality of life plan that was approved in October of 2019 is being implemented.
The partnership with The Lutheran Foundation is focused on addressing the opioid crisis that is negatively impacting Fort Wayne and Allen County and the rest of the country. This crisis intervention opportunity is a result of additional revenue collected by the State of Indiana through income taxes and distributed to the City of Fort Wayne. Mayor Henry’s Administration and City Council worked collaboratively to approve the quality of life plan that also includes enhancing neighborhoods through funding to the four neighborhood area partnerships and a partnership with Easter Seals Arc to provide workforce development training for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The Lutheran Foundation is using the designated $200,000 to help support Allen County’s Sober Living Pilot, a program launched in July 2019 for individuals in the criminal justice system battling substance use disorder. The ultimate goal of the program is to reduce recidivism in drug offenses and promote long-term sober living by providing treatment beds at Park Center, Redemption House and Choices Treatment Center.
Allen County is facing an opioid epidemic with an estimated 6,000 – 10,000 intravenous drug users, and an overall estimate of 60,000 individuals misusing opioids. As a result, the criminal justice system is flooded with first-time and repeat drug offenders, unable to break the cycle of addiction. Subsequently, sufficient residential treatment and sober living in the community cannot meet the demand.
The Fort Wayne Police Department’s allocation of $300,000 was invested to purchase new drug testing equipment. The new tools will expedite the testing process and provide more comprehensive results on substances present, keeping the FWPD on the cutting edge of new drug trends. Previously, the Indiana State Police performed most of these tests.
In 2019, the FWPD set a record for methamphetamine seizures with 14.28 pounds seized. The methamphetamine was considered 98 percent pure, extremely cheap and very addictive. The FWPD also saw a large increase in THC Wax, with 7.49 pounds seized. The danger of THC Wax is that consuming high concentrations of THC products can cause psychotic episodes and even schizophrenia. THC is considered even more dangerous for young adults whose brains are not fully developed until age 26. While the City’s non-fatal drug overdoses are down 22 percent for 2019, there were a record number of overdose deaths in 2019. There are currently 132 confirmed overdose deaths, with 22 pending toxicology reports. The previous record was in 2017 with 127 overdose deaths.
“Our goal is to make a meaningful difference and help make Fort Wayne safer and be better able to assist individuals and families in need of help. I’m encouraged that we’re moving in the right direction on a difficult issue,” said Mayor Henry. “Being in position to implement innovative solutions speaks volumes about our collective commitment to doing what’s best for the community.”
“We are so grateful for the incredible community collaboration that is making it possible to tackle this incredibly difficult opioid crisis,” said Marcia Haaff, CEO of The Lutheran Foundation. “Thank you, Mayor Henry, for being our champion throughout this process!”