Number of drug-related deaths in Shelby County on par with last year

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[lin_video src=http://eplayer.clipsyndicate.com/embed/player.js?aspect_ratio=16×9&auto_next=1&auto_start=0&div_id=videoplayer-1374275430&height=480&page_count=5&pf_id=9624&pl_id=21958&show_title=1&va_id=4150677&width=640&windows=2 service=syndicaster width=640 height=480 div_id=videoplayer-1374275430 type=script]COLUMBIANA, Ala. (WIAT) — In the last few years, 20-30 people in Shelby County died from drug overdoses each year.

The county is already up to 20 drug-related deaths in 2013. Prescription drug abuse is responsible for many of those deaths.

Shelby County Drug Task Force Commander Lt. Kevin Turner says drug addicts will steal doctors prescription pads often.

“We’re going out to them, making them aware that we’re seeing numerous pads from them,” Turner said. “Trying to give them educational information on how to prevent theft.”

The eight-member task force is fighting an uphill battle. While their budget has gone down by one-third in the last few years, drug crimes and drug-related deaths remain constant.

“We don’t forget about all of the complaints coming in,” Turner said, “It’s just we’re having to prioritize and see what needs to be worked.”

Unfortunately the task force can only investigate a portion of the cases that need attention. Once suspects are arrested, they don’t stay in jail for long because of state money problems.

“And that’s where everyone’s battling, from lawmakers to drug task forces,” Turner says. “When we get people in jail, they’re back on the streets in a couple of hours.”

Turner says he and his team are not discouraged despite the daily challenges they face. They come to work every day ready to continue the battle against prescription drugs on the street.

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