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Clarksville fights back against drug use with new task force

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) - It's an image Detective Jason Kurtich says still haunts him to this day. 

“He was laid back in the seat, had his arm out across the center console, fresh needle tracks, there was fresh blood on his arm,” Kurtich said. 

“I found him in the vehicle with his jacket half off,” he said. “Unresponsive, very erratic breathing.” 

He responded to a call in March where he found a man unconscious after a heroin overdose. 

“It kind of weighs heavy on you,” he said. 

It’s the type of call Kurtich says Clarksville police now get all the time. 

“We're seeing them over and over again,” Kurtich said. 

“It is a serious problem,” said Mayor Kim McMillan. 

A problem McMillan hopes the city's new opioid task force will keep from getting worse. 

“We feel like this task force will be able to find new, different innovative and outside the box ways to address this problem,” McMillan said. 

Starting next month, nine members will serve on the task force, meeting once a month to work on solutions to opioid abuse in Clarksville. 

“We have doctors,” she said. “We have social service advocates.” 

Last year, 15 people died from opioid-related overdoses in Montgomery County. 

“Even one death is too many,” McMillan said. 

In 2017, Clarksville police made 320 arrests for illegal possession of prescription meds. 

That's up from nearly 260 arrests in 2016. 

McMillan says the task force will also look into the city's lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies which make and distribute opioids. 

“They might have known that this type of addiction could occur, and they continue to put those type of drugs into the marketplace,” McMillan said. 

It’s a crisis first responders, like Kurtich, hope will make a dent in a problem that's claimed so many lives. 

“It's somewhat terrifying,” Kurtich said. 

The task force will meet on September 12. 

The group has to draft a plan of action within 120 days of their first meeting. 


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