Sunday, July 14, 2024

Newhouse launches Central Washington Fentanyl Task Force

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - On May 24, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) launched the Central Washington Fentanyl Task Force, a vital initiative aimed at combatting the escalating fentanyl crisis plaguing communities across Central Washington and the United States.

 The Task Force is a working group led by Rep. Newhouse consisting of groups and individuals on the local and state levels who are on the frontlines fighting the fentanyl crisis throughout Central Washington. Task Force members include law enforcement, addiction treatment groups, medical professionals, drug court officials, school resource officers, tribal leaders, elected officials, and community leaders.

“Today, we take a bold step forward in our unwavering fight against the fentanyl crisis that has inflicted immeasurable pain on our families and friends in Central Washington and the United States,” said Rep. Newhouse. “We cannot stand idly by while this deadly drug ravages our communities, claiming lives and tearing families apart. The Central Washington Fentanyl Task Force will be a powerful force for change, bringing together the best minds and resources to tackle the growing threat of fentanyl in our region. The devastating impact of the fentanyl crisis requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, and I thank all the dedicated groups and individuals who will join forces to combat this crisis. I am confident that this group will help protect and build a stronger Central Washington.”

 Below are the members of Rep. Newhouse’s Central Washington Fentanyl Task Force:

Kimberly Bershing, RN, BSN, Chief Nursing Officer, MultiCare Yakima Memorial

Joseph Brusic, Prosecuting Attorney, Yakima County

Jered Carter, Clinical Supervisor, Sundown M Ranch & Substance Abuse

Judge David Elofson (Retired), Yakima County Superior Court

Jarred-Michael Erickson, Chairman, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

Sergeant Chris Foreman, Chelan County Sheriff’s Office & President, WA State Narcotics Investigators Association (WSNIA)

Chief Kevin Fuhr, Moses Lake Police Department

Dr. Raul Garcia, Medical Director, Astria Toppenish Hospital

Chief Chris Guerrero, Kennewick Police Department

Detective Erik Horbatko, Yakima Police Department

Ana Johnson, Program Manager, Chelan County Behavioral Health Unit

Chief Rob Layman, Sunnyside Police Department

Amanda McKinney, District 1 Commissioner, Yakima County

Rep. Gina Mosbrucker, Washington’s 14th Legislative District

Sergeant Rafael Sanchez, Yakima Police Department

Chief James Shike, Yakama Nation Tribal Police

Alicia Stromme Tobin, Executive Director, Safe Yakima Valley

Megan Tweedy, Community Member

Sheriff Robert Udell, Yakima County

Andrew Wonacott, Community Member

“Treatment is an effective intervention for the opiate crisis, but it takes the efforts of everyone to help encourage people to seek recovery.” – Jered Carter, Clinical Supervisor, Sundown M Ranch

“I applaud Congressman Newhouse for leading the fight in Washington state in regards to the Fentanyl epidemic. One life lost to Fentanyl abuse is too many. Our community and our children's future are in grave danger if we do not come together and work towards combating this poison from continuing to be pushed into our community. The way this Fentanyl is being marketed, distributed and mixed in with other drugs make no mistake the Cartels are targeting our youth and the next generation of our loved ones. I am excited to see what we can do with Federal Government support to fight against those that are bringing this into our homes and work diligently to hopefully solve this issue.” – Sergeant Chris Foreman, Chelan County Sheriff’s Office & President, Washington State Narcotics Investigators Association (WSNIA)

   "The proliferation of Fentanyl into our schools, homes and public spaces is a danger that strikes constant fear in the hearts of parents who worry about their children's safety. As a mother to young children, I share in the frustration over the lack of action to eliminate this deadly outbreak from crossing our borders and entering into our communities. I am passionately committed to finding new ways to educate all ages about the extreme risk of Fentanyl and to proactively craft legislation and policies that will prevent Fentanyl from plaguing our communities." – Amanda McKinney, District 1 Commissioner, Yakima County

“I look forward to engaging in conversation addressing the overdose epidemic. Saving lives through evidence-based treatment, like medications for opioid use disorder, is paramount to changing the upward trajectory of deaths that devastate our communities.” – Megan Tweedy, Community Member

“If fentanyl has not touched you yet, it will; it is an indiscriminate killer. I am 100% in support of this task force. As a father who has lost two sons to this crisis, we have to do something now! I applaud the leadership Dan Newhouse is taking to identify this crisis and lead efforts to get something in place. As noted, this is a multi-faceted problem that will take everyone's contribution to make a difference from stopping the supply, giving our first responders the tools necessary, educating the public on the crisis, and providing support for those who are impacted or need assistance. I look forward to working with Dan and the Task Force to assist in addressing this crisis head on.” – Andrew Wonacott, Community Member

Background: The Central Washington Fentanyl Task Force will address the entire spectrum of issues tied to the fentanyl crisis, focusing on enforcement, education, prevention, and treatment. The group will plan to meet on a quarterly basis. The goal of the group will be to research, discuss, and execute well-informed initiatives that will do the following to address the fentanyl crisis in Central Washington:

• Compile data from federal, state, and local communities to be able to accurately assess trends in the fentanyl crisis.

• Assess current resources available to the public and frontline workers, and where potential shortcomings may exist.

• Discuss potential legislative action on the federal, state, and local levels.

• Help organizations and local leaders educate the public about the dangers of fentanyl and opportunities for treatment.

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