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Dedham to form Drug Task Force beginning Tuesday

Posted by Dave Eisenstadter  January 11, 2013 11:31 AM

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Responding to recent overdose deaths and an escalating problem, Dedham is putting together a Drug Task Force.

The group currently has no members, but Selectman Sarah MacDonald hopes people will volunteer at a meeting at Town Hall next Tuesday.

“The problem is big and challenging and we want to bring all the minds together,” said MacDonald, who is organizing the meeting.

MacDonald invited members from groups inside and outside the town’s borders. Dedham Police, the Dedham Youth Commission, the School Health Advisory Council, the Council on Aging, the Board of Health, Dedham Medical Associates, and the Norfolk County District Attorney’s office have all been asked to send members, according to MacDonald.

Assistant Norfolk County District Attorney Jennifer Rowe will speak about regional efforts to prevent drug abuse.

What comes out of the meeting is unclear, MacDonald said.

“We’re kind of hoping to do some table setting and define the scope of the issue,” MacDonald said. “We’ll have a discussion what we as a community think we can do to change the trajectory of the issue of substance abuse.”

Last year, Dedham police responded to three overdose deaths. Detectives Robert Walsh and Kevin Mahoney, who handle the majority of drug cases in town, said last fall that drug addiction is also responsible for many of the crimes in Dedham.

"Drug use is probably one of the bigger issues facing Dedham," Walsh said. "But I'll also say this: It's no bigger a problem here than it is anywhere else."

According to MacDonald, interest in forming a Drug Task Force was sparked by an August 2012 selectmen's meeting where Dedham police detectives spoke about the growing problem of drugs in town.

“It is a very, very complex problem, and I think the only way that we as a community can make an impact is to really focus some energy and effort on having what may be difficult conversations to really make a change,” MacDonald said.

The meeting will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Lower Conference Room at the Town Hall.

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