The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office is launching an initiative aimed at raising awareness about the heroin epidemic in Cuyahoga County.
County Prosecutor Timothy J. McGinty announced that television spots with the tagline "Let's Face It" will begin airing next week on Cleveland stations and will continue into early April.
In addition, a special Web site - LetsFaceHeroin.com - will launch at the same time with information on the epidemic, personal stories from and tips for those touched by heroin, and will include links to community resources.
"This is a battle that our community has to fight on many fronts," said Prosecutor McGinty.
The good news, he added, is that many community partners are committed to curbing the heroin epidemic here.
The main role of the Prosecutor's Office in this effort will always be to take criminals off the streets, but with this initiative, it is tackling new challenges: To educate the public that heroin is everyone's problem and in doing so, to help decrease demand for the deadly drug.
"Our timing with this campaign could not be better," Prosecutor McGinty said. "Phillip Seymour Hoffman's death has focused national attention on heroin because he's a famous actor. But on an average day, more than 100 Americans die of heroin overdoses."
Prosecutor McGinty said his office tapped forfeiture money taken from criminals to pay for the broadcast and digital "Let's Face It" campaign. By law, a percentage of those revenues must be used for community education and prevention efforts.
The need to raise awareness about heroin's pervasiveness and danger is clear: Heroin overdose deaths in Cuyahoga County have risen from 40 in 2007 to almost 200 last year.
Heroin now kills more people in Cuyahoga County than homicide, suicide, fires or traffic accidents.
The television ads and the Web site content were developed by the creative team of Kelley Hynds of Hyndsight Productions and Bob Stefanov of Bob Stefanov Productions in conjunction with the Prosecutor's Office.
Prosecutor McGinty said that his office will make the videos available to any organizations that would like to use them on their Web sites or in their workplaces.
He also plans to share them with other members of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association.
And he asked local broadcasters to consider donating time in addition to what the Prosecutor's Office has purchased in order to expand the reach of the ad campaign.
"We certainly welcome any additional help to spread this message," Prosecutor McGinty said.