Drug overdose death rate almost triples homicides in Milwaukee County

Numbers show last year's drug overdose death rate in Milwaukee County was almost triple last year's homicide rates.

County leaders say these numbers are absolutely disturbing. As of Jan. 5, the number of suspected overdoses in 2017 is at 373. However, that number may change as there are still 50 cases that are pending toxicology results.

Acting Milwaukee County Sheriff Richard Schmidt say's it'll take a community effort to start seeing the numbers go down.

"I need every single group, I need the faith-based community, and we need those that are involved in social work, we those involved in the medical and mental health field, every single one of these, the community groups," Schmidt said. "It's a major scourge on our society. We've got to work together, figure out solutions."

Last year’s homicide rates were actually down from 2016.

However, the total drugs deaths numbers since 2013 numbers have consistently increased each year. Heroin and fentanyl deaths are the main causes, with fentanyl deaths up 55 percent since 2016.

"Almost tripling the number of homicides we've seen. It just speaks to the impact that these drugs are having in this community, in this county, in the state frankly," said Sarah Schreiber with the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office.

"It's absolutely essential that all of these groups really work together to figure out the best possible solution because we obviously haven't reached it as a society," Schmidt said.

The medical examiner's office says this rise was not unexpected as they were noticing the growth throughout last year. Several times throughout the year they were actually at capacity and couldn't even take in everybody because of backlogs.

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