RACINE COUNTY (WITI) -- Racine County Sheriff's officials are looking to take the war on drugs straight into the homes of users. The Racine County Sheriff's Office is making drug testing kits available to residents free of charge in the hopes that when friends, family members or neighbors notice someone who may have a drug problem, they'll have some tools available to them. It's an effort to help people intervene before a life is lost.
Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling says he's tired of seeing lives lost to drugs in his community.
"We've had over a dozen heroin deaths this year alone," Sheriff Schmaling said.
Sheriff Schmaling says the fight against drugs is one problem law enforcement officials can't "arrest away."
"We make a lot of arrests, but they keep coming -- so I`m trying to get on the forefront and stop some of this through prevention, through education," Sheriff Schmaling said.
That's why the Racine County Sheriff's Office will soon offer saliva scan drug testing kits to residents for free.
"It`s a saliva swab. It`s put into the kit. You set it in its place and wait approximately 10 minutes and it`ll show you which drugs you test positive for," Sheriff Schmaling said.
These drug tests are tailored to check for the county's problem drugs.
"THC, opiates including heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepine, oxycodone," Sheriff Schmaling said.
Some say despite good intentions, this type of drug testing should be handled by public health professionals.
"Perhaps the law enforcement officer can explain how to use the kit and all of that but presumably they're not going to be around when the test result comes in and how do you interpret the test result? How do you know you don't have a false positive?" Christopher Ahmuty, the executive director of the ACLU said.
In addition to the test, these kits will include a list of resources and places people can go for help if they have a friend or family member who may need it.
Sheriff Schmaling says this is about saving lies -- not nabbing drug users.
"I`m not asking who is picking these up. I don`t want your name. I`m not interested in the vehicle you`re driving. My interest is in saving someone`s life and getting them off this addictive poison," Sheriff Schmaling said.
Sheriff Schmaling says he's not sure what the demand will be for these free drug test kits -- so they're starting with 300 kits. The hope is to make them available at the Sheriff's Office and at school district offices.
The test kits are being paid for with funds the Sheriff's Office has seized from drug dealers in the community.