Local News

Sheriff Shofner: DeWitt County in Midst of Public Health Crisis

DeWitt County is the midst of a public health crisis that is destroying lives and devastating families.  Drug abuse, and particularly heroin, claims one life at a time.  We must realize that in order to turn the tide in this battle, our community must mobilize to save one life at a time.

You may be reading this and thinking that drug abuse has no chance of affecting you. You are wrong.  Heroin represents an evil force that threatens you and your family.  Many victims first become addicted in a place we all feel safe, with our own doctor.  Even though the medical need for opiates fades, the human desire does not.  Unable to renew prescriptions, opiate users will beg, borrow, and steal to satisfy the craving.

My 27 years of experience in local law enforcement, including 10 years as a full time narcotics officer, has taught me that the addict has almost zero chance of recovery if we simply arrest them and warehouse them in jail.   Law Enforcement certainly has a role curbing the supply, but true progress can only be made in the treatment centers, the living rooms, and the churches of our communities.  No government program will solve this.

Narcotics addiction is very hard to understand unless you have lived it.   I can honestly say it took me over a decade working with drug users to learn this simple truth:  Drugs like heroin re-wire the human brain.  A drug user does irrational things because their brain is no longer “normal”.

The hope lies in the fact that god gave our brains the ability to heal.  With prolonged recovery, the brain can restore itself.  They key is to get users into treatment before their addiction kills them, and to be fanatical about saving them.  Expect them to relapse.  It will happen time and time again.  This process will be maddening to those hoping for change.  This is a fight against evil forces.  It will not be quick or easy.

What can you do?  First of all, if you know someone battling addiction, do anything you can to get them into treatment.  You can either join the fight for their life, or prepare for their death.  As a community member, call local law enforcement if you have information about a drug dealer in your area.  Clinton Crimestoppers is 217-935-3333 and you do not have to give your name.  Local law enforcement wants to stop the supply, but we need community involvement to get that done.

This Wednesday morning,  I requested an emergency meeting with several county leaders to develop a strategy against  heroin.  My staff was joined by County Coroner Randy Rice,  State’s Attorney Dan Markwell, the Illinois State Police Task Force 6 Commander, , Clinton Police Chief Lowers,and  County Drug Court Probation Officers.  First Chirstian Church Minister Greg Taylor also joined the discussion.

We all heard direct testimony from a young widow that had lost her husband to drug abuse.  We were all moved by her story and left more determined than ever to continue this fight.
Just like you, we realize that we are fighting for one life at a time.

Sheriff Jered Shofner


Local Weather - Sponsored By:


Townhall Top of the Hour News


SRN News