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Report: Hays County Sheriff's Office to develop outreach, education program around opioid epidemic

The planned program is part of an overall increased push by Hays County leaders to combat the ongoing fentanyl crisis.

HAYS COUNTY, Texas — Since four Hays CISD students died from fentanyl-related overdoses this past summer, leaders in Hays County have increased their efforts to raise awareness and combat the growing opioid issue.

According to a report from KVUE's media partners at the Austin American-Statesman, in September, Hays CISD launched a public service announcement and a series of educational videos to educate students, staff and families about the fentanyl crisis. Now, the Hays County Sheriff's Office is joining the push to expand outreach and education.

The Statesman reports that on Tuesday, the Hays County Commissioners Court approved up to $20,000 for the sheriff's office to create a program and educational materials about the crisis.

That includes developing a program similar to "Shattered Dreams" – a school-based initiative designed to educate students, parents and the community about the dangers of underage drinking and driving – as well as forming peer-to-peer focus groups. The program would be used to educate Hays County students at all grade levels.

In a written proposal to commissioners, Sheriff Gary Cutler reportedly wrote that his office anticipates "the synthetic opioid crisis will not only continue, it will grow."

Hays County law enforcement officials have said that the pills are being sold to teens through social media and other phone apps. So far, two people have been arrested and charged with the sale of fentanyl-laced pills in Hays County.

Hays County Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for leads on fentanyl drug dealers in the area. Cutler said in September that his office is also working with fire and EMS officials to create an overdose mapping system to investigate which areas are being hit with fentanyl.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is also partnering with the Texas National Guard, the Hays County health department and local law enforcement officers to develop an overdose task force, which would be tasked with identifying, tracking and arresting criminals selling fake pills containing fentanyl.

Earlier this month, Hays County leaders hosted a meeting where they discussed how they are handling the growing opioid crisis and heard directly from families that have been affected.

To learn more, read the Statesman's full report.

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