SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin convenience store owner who said he has lost more than 30 customers to overdoses is speaking out against the heroin epidemic by posting signs on his store warning of the dangers of drugs.
Dick Hiers said he posted the signs to raise awareness about the problem, Sheboygan Press Media (http://shebpr.es/1PB19FU ) reported.
Hiers has posted about a dozen different signs on the Northeast Standard BP station in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, including "Heroin is killing people — help wanted" and "Wake up! Your kids are dying — heroin."
Photos of the signs appeared on social media. But Hiers said he was disappointed by the community's lack of response.
"A lot of people thought it was cute and took pictures of it, but no one was knocking on my door to find out why," he said.
Hiers said he hopes the signs spread awareness and encourage others to speak out against the problem of drug addiction and heroin use in Sheboygan.
"I am hoping that this will be a building block and it will expand and get bigger and bigger," he said. "So people, if they see drug deals going down or lose a neighbor to heroin, that they bug the police department and get some response."
Sheboygan Police Chief Chris Domagalski said he is frustrated that people assume police are the only answer to the opioid epidemic. Domagalski said people need to understand how important a community response is.
"A successful approach involves a coordinated community effort focused on preventive efforts such as education on the dangers of drug and alcohol use and abuse and the long-term consequences including problems with physical and mental health, relationships, employment, and the law," Domagalski said.
Hiers said he is now working with two groups, Samaritan's Hand and the Christian Intervention Program, two faith-based addiction support programs.
"I give them a lot of credit. That's what we're trying to do," Hiers said. "If we have to do it one by one, suddenly it will be two by two, then 12 by 12, until we finally have control over it. It has to stop."
To raise awareness, Samaritan's Hand is holding a "Prayer at the Pump" on June 29. The prayer is aimed at healing the community and spreading awareness about addiction.
Information from: Sheboygan Press Media, http://www.sheboygan-press.com