After five heroin-related deaths in Sauk County in the last six months, county officials said that they're looking for more resources to combat addiction in the community.
In a seemingly safe and quiet neighborhood in West Baraboo, police recently made a large drug bust. Seven people were arrested and four have been charged with running a heroin supply operation.
Police said they are relieved that they shut down the flow of a drug that could cause so many unnecessary deaths. They said it's a reminder of how big of a problem the highly addictive drug is.
"This is definitely not a big-city problem," Baraboo Police Lt. Rob Sinden said. "Typically, we find out about it, unfortunately, when it's too late. We'll respond to an incident where an individual has overdosed."
At the county level, authorities are responding to what many officials are calling an epidemic.
"We've seen an increase in a request for treatment. Probably in the last two years, it's doubled," said Dan Brattset, deputy director of Sauk County Human Services. "We used to only have a handful of cases."
In Sauk County, five people have died from heroin overdose so far this year. That’s more than the number of traffic fatalities the county has had, officials said.
The deaths are why the Sheriff's Department is asking the county for more money for additional training and resources to deal with the heroin problem.
Baraboo police officials said that they side with the county. They said while more police training and public education is needed, there's a bigger need to eradicate the root of the problem.
"We need to really start focusing on the suppliers," Sinden said. "We need to really start focusing on the large suppliers, the places where things are being cut and cooked. We also need to increase prosecutions of those individuals responsible for creating that product."
With heroin use on the rise, other crimes are on the rise as well, according to police.
The drugs cost money, and many users turn to theft, robbery and even prostitution to come up with the funds to pay for the habit, police said.
Those crimes also take up valuable police resources; resources that police said are already stretched very thin.