In Green Bay speech, AG Sessions calls for 'comprehensive antidote' to opioid epidemic

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at the annual conference of the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children at the KI Convention Center on Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017 in Green Bay. (Adam Wesley/The Post-Crescent via AP)

GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a stop in Green Bay Tuesday morning to talk about the ongoing battle against drugs, and what's needed to win.

Sessions was the headline speaker at the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children.

“Our current drug epidemic is indeed the deadliest in America's history," said Sessions.

Discouraging words from the attorney general in front of a room full of those on a mission to eliminate drugs in society.

But Sessions says President Donald Trump's administration has made responding to the opioid crisis a national priority.

“To confront a crisis on this scale we must have a comprehensive antidote to the problem. I believe the solution contains three pillars; prevention, enforcement and treatment,” explained Sessions.

In addition to his speech, Sessions met privately with state agency heads and local law enforcement. Those meetings were to get feedback on what's being done and what still needs to be done to address drug abuse.

“He's absolutely correct. It's going to take more than just one thing. I don't think you ever win this battle it's a fight that we have to continue,” said Appleton Police Chief Todd Thomas.

Sessions pointed out drugs cost taxpayers money and lives. Department of Justice statistics show 52,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses in 2015. In Wisconsin, there were 800 deaths in 2015.

“The numbers we have for 2016 show another increase,” Sessions indicating preliminary data show more than 60,000 deaths.

Brown County Sheriff John Gossage says in addition to enforcement his drug task force works toward prevention.

“So we are holding them accountable and our drug task force is working on initiatives to combat the scourge of drugs in our community,” said Gossage.

State Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, issued a statement ahead of Sessions' visit asking Sessions to stand up for taxpayers by holding big drug companies accountable for their role in the opioid crisis.

A few people protested outside the KI Convention Center carrying signs saying "the war on drugs is a proven failure" and the "department of injustice", but inside there were promises to work together.

“We can change. We can make a difference,” said Sessions.

Earlier this month, Sessions announced the Opioid Fraud and Detection Unit. It is a Department of Justice pilot program to crackdown on opioid-related health care fraud.

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