'An imminent public health crisis:' Drugs on track to kill historic numbers of people in Milwaukee County

MILWAUKEE COUNTY -- A total of 120 people died by homicide in 2018 in Milwaukee County. Three times as many people died to drugs and the new numbers show it's not getting any better.

"The pace we're on right now is making it an imminent public health crisis," said Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.

John Chisholm

The crisis has hit Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm and his office of prosecutors, as well as the medical examiner's office.

"It's getting to the point where the morgue is literally filled right now," said Chisholm.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office tweeted Wednesday, Aug. 14 if trends continue, 423 people are on pace to die from drug overdoses this year -- the highest in eight years.

The number is up from 384 in 2018, 401 in 2017, and 343 in 2016.

"The hardest part is to work your way back up that chain so you can get the larger scale dealers and disrupt that process and hold them accountable," Chisholm said.

In the DA's office, five prosecutors are devoted to homicide, 15 to high-level felony drug cases, and one person is handling all of the overdose death cases.

"In the coming months we are going to add an additional prosecutor to that position right there. The volume of cases is just overwhelming," said Chisholm.

Numbers that signify lives.

"That's someone's loved one, somebody's mother, brother, father and it's going to have that ripple effect in the community," said Chisholm.

Last year, 74 people died in a car crash, 120 people by homicide and 384 by drugs. Numbers show the amount of people dying because of fentanyl, or a combination of drugs, continues to rise.

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