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updated: 2/18/2014 7:35 PM

Kane sheriff hopefuls differ on dealing with heroin problem

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  • Don Kramer, left, and Kevin Williams are candidates in the race for Kane County sheriff.

      Don Kramer, left, and Kevin Williams are candidates in the race for Kane County sheriff.

 
 

So far this year, there has not been a single heroin overdose death in Kane County.

That almost certainly will change.

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There were 22 heroin overdose deaths last year and 27 in 2012, according to the Kane County coroner's office.

Don Kramer and Kevin Williams, the two candidates seeking the Republican nomination for Kane County sheriff in the March 18 primary, have differing views on how they would combat the area's heroin problem.

"It's not about arrests. It's about community education," said Williams, 54, a current lieutenant and 22-year veteran of the sheriff's department.

Williams prefers a comprehensive approach that not only reaches out to students and teens, but also parents and other agencies.

Williams said it's not always the troublemakers that get hooked on heroin. He said it could be an athlete who gets injured, is prescribed an opiate for pain, and later seeks to replicate the high.

" ... Educating families, parents, working with medical staffs, fire departments," Williams said, noting that some baby boomers are using heroin as a replacement for OxyContin drugs. "It's not just arresting a young man and putting him in jail."

Kramer, 55, who retired in 2009 as a lieutenant after 30 years with the sheriff's department, says any approach must go beyond that.

"As education goes up, it's certainly going to stabilize the numbers. But education's not enough," said Kramer, citing studies that have shown teens turn to heroin because they are bored or looking for a kick.

In addition to educating parents, Kramer would use the sheriff's office to promote the area's after-school programs and encourage parents to get their kids involved with extracurricular activities beyond sports.

"We need to offer alternatives to make sure kids aren't getting into drugs," he said. "We have to give them something else to do. If you don't fill that void, they are going to be doing that criminal activity."

Williams and Kramer are from Geneva and both lost election bids against Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez in 2006 and 2010, respectively.

The winner of the March election will advance to the Nov. 4 general election to face Willie Mayes Sr., a sergeant at the sheriff's department who is running as a Democrat.

Perez is not seeking a third term.

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