SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (KFVS) - Perry County Sheriff Steve Bareis and Washington County Sheriff Danny Bradac have announced they are joining forces in the fight against drugs in the two counties.
Both Perry and Washington counties have joined together through a mutual aid agreement to form the Perry Washington County Anti-crime and Drug Taskforce. Sheriff Steve Bareis applied for a Federal grant through the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority and has been awarded a grant for $61,300. The grant will be used to hire Jamie Ellermeyer, recently retired Du Quoin Police Chief and experienced Criminal Investigator with the Perry County Drug Task Force. Ellermeyer will be the commander/coordinator of the newly formed multijurisdictional task force.
Both counties have seen a significant increase in drug arrests since 2014. Perry County saw a 65 percent increase and Washington county saw a 33 percent increase. According to the IDPH, Perry County has seen an increase of 55.39 percent in emergency department visits for opoid and heroin overdose related incidents from 2010 to 2015. Washington County saw an increase of 37.35 percent. Washington County was in the highest category for related crude mortality rate in 2015 due to drug overdose (5 reported per 100,000 population).
This new partnership will link investigations, patrol, K-9 and prosecution. The two counties working together will develop a force that can conduct drug eradication and interception measures on Interstate 64, Highway 127, and Highway 51.
Efforts will be made to coordinate drug investigations in Du Quoin, Pinckneyville, Nashville, Okawville and several of the villages in both counties. A governing board of both sheriffs, local police chiefs and County State's Attorney Offices will work together to give focus and accountability to the new organization.
Sheriff Bareis and Sheriff Bradac say they are looking forward to a partnership that will make a distinctive difference on drug abuse, drug overdoses and other criminal activities that are associated with drug use.
"Drug overdoses have been on a rise with the resurgence of heroin and crystal methamphetamine in our region," Perry County Sheriff Bareis said.
Washington County Sheriff Bradac says "that overdoses have risen in recent years which negatively impacts our community and families."
Both sheriffs hope the new taskforce will be a step in the right direction when it comes to eradicating crime in their counties.