Southeastern PA

Montgomery DA releases grand jury report on opioid epidemic

Grand jury investigations are almost always associated with criminal cases, but authorities in Montgomery County are so concerned about the opioid crisis they convened a grand jury to look at the problem and offer some solutions.

We usually don't see Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele get emotional, but he did Wednesday while putting a face to the opioid crisis.

He talked about a woman who lost her son.

"This lady to my right has shown such courage.  She has been with us talking about this to students all over the county.  And it's hard to do," Steel said.

Her story was one of many told at a news conference, where Steele released the Montgomery County Investigative Grand Jury's report that highlights the opioid problem and gives six recommendations on how to combat the crisis.

He said the grand jury doing this type of investigation is rare, but he hopes it makes an impact.

"That's a big part of this is trying to prevent folks from starting down a course that is so difficult to recover from," Steel said.

The 23-person grand jury reviewed evidence and testimony presented during a 13-month period. The report outlines treatment, mandatory minimum sentences for dealers and efforts by law enforcement.

John Becker knows about both sides of this problem. He was a police officer for 17 years before becoming an addict.

Becker was prescribed pain pills and within a few months, he was hooked and ended up in jail. He said heroin would have been his next vice.

"It was only a matter of time.  If I hadn't gotten caught, I probably would have.  I have no doubt I would have," Becker said.

He said he was able to get help, and he's hoping this grand jury report will be able to help others.

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