(CBS) — A heroin awareness program in Orland Park last week has resulted in a feud carried out in the media between the Village of Orland Park and the Orland Fire Protection District.
Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin took exception to comments at the heroin awareness meeting, put on by the fire protection district last week, that there’s a major heroin problem in the Orland Park grammar schools and that schools aren’t doing anything to warn children of the dangers of heroin and other drugs.
McLaughlin says, “Education is one thing and warning people is one thing. Scaring people into something that might not be 100 percent accurate is something that we were a little concerned with.”
McLaughlin says the schools have the anti-drug DARE program around the 6th grade and that there’s a “refresher” program for 8th graders before they enter high school. He also says an Orland Park police officer is always on-duty at Sandburg High School.
But, Orland Fire Protection District president Jim Hickey says teachers from Sandburg High School have told firefighters they wish more were done with drug education at the grammar school level because it may be too late for some students by the time they reach high school.
In a press release, Hickey accuses the Orland Park mayor of being more concerned about his image than with addressing the issue of heroin use in his village.
Mayor McLaughlin says he’s not concerned about his own image but he said that comments made last week at the drug awareness program “were giving the village a bad image when I don’t think it was deserved and that the police and the community were somewhat criticized for not doing anything with the drug problem and I think we’ve been a lot for a number of years.”
The mayor says there is, “not a major [heroin] problem” in the Orland Park grammar schools.”
Hickey responds that he doesn’t “know for a fact that there’s a heroin problem at [the grammar school] level. I would rather be pro-active.”
Hickey says he favors a more in-your-face awareness program for elementary school children.
Both men say they’d like to get back working together on the problem.
The Orland Fire Protection District Chief Ken Brucki says that, last year, there were nearly 60 ambulance calls for heroin overdoses in the Orland area and that, six of those people.