JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) - A new initiative by Indiana State Police has been set in motion in hopes of saving lives and getting drug dealers off the streets.
ISP is now asking for the help of local prosecutors to pursue charges on people who overdose. They will also continue to target drug dealers.
This amped up mission comes a day after state police net 20 drug arrests in a major sting operation.
ISP has just created a new task force that has a mission of arresting a drug dealer a day in southern Indiana. This, along with the effort to charge those that overdose on drugs, helps law enforcement get one step closer to their overall goal.
"We have to fight a bunch of little battles to win a major battle," ISP Sgt. Jerry Goodin said. "If they've got drugs in their system then we are going to try to work a case and get them arrested for that possession. If they've got a drug in their body they are in possession of that drug."
Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said the law allows you to charge someone with drugs in their system with possession as long as there is other evidence to back the claim.
"Which might be a witness who saw the person use, it might be track marks on their arms or paraphernalia," Mull said.
Mull said they don't want to prevent people from calling for help or to kick someone when they're down.
"The purpose of all of this when we are filling the possession charges is ultimately to get help for these individuals and many will not get that help unless they are required through the judicial system," Mull said.
ISP said in order to make this change, they will now thoroughly investigate overdose deaths and are asking local agencies to turn over their cases.
"What we are going to try to find out is where these drugs came from that this person overdosed on and obviously we are going to be going after the person that sold the drugs," Goodin said.
"If there was ever anything that warranted a response from the criminal justice system of a harsh penalty and a zero tolerance, this is the epidemic that warrants that," Mull said. "We are going to have to change the way we are dealing with this and give prosecutors the tools to take these people off the street that are killing our citizens."
In order to make punishments even stiffer, Mull said those who deal drugs that end in an overdose death could even face a homicide charge.