Lake County State’s Attorney Michael G. Nerheim was named the 2017 State’s Attorney of the Year for the second time by the Illinois State Crime Commission at an award ceremony on June 21. Nerheim was first named State’s Attorney of the Year in 2014 in recognition of his efforts in building initiatives to reduce opioid and heroin deaths as well as reducing the demand and supply of prescription and illicit drugs.
State’s Attorney Nerheim
“State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim has been a national leader in the battle against the opioid and heroin epidemic. In addition, he has been a leader in combating child sex trafficking; thereby saving families from the despicable horror of their children being exploited,” said Jerry Elsner from the Illinois State Crime Commission.
Nerheim cofounded the Lake County Opioid Initiative (LCOI) in 2012. The LCOI has successfully launched programs, such as: “A Way Out,” the Naloxone Program, and Text-A-Tip. These programs have impacted the Lake County community significantly.
“A Way Out” Lake County
“A Way Out” is a Lake County, Illinois Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion pilot program, designed to fast-track users to substance abuse programs and services. This program is available 24/7 at participating police departments across Lake County and ensures no criminal charges will be sought for those who may be in possession of narcotics or paraphernalia if they seek assistance. To date, there have been 144 client walk-ins, and 130 clients have accessed treatment.
“A Way Out” is comprised of law enforcement and treatment providers, such as: Gateway Foundation, the Lake County Health Department, Nicasa Behavioral Health Services, Chicago Behavioral Hospital and other hospitals in Lake County.
The Naloxone Program was brought about by the Law Enforcement Committee of the Lake County Opioid Initiative. In November 2014, police squad cars across multiple jurisdictions in Lake County were equipped with naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid antidote that counteracts the effects of heroin and opioids in the brain and essentially ‘brings back’ an individual from an overdose. To date, 167 lives have been saved by law enforcement officers across Lake County since Dec. 25, 2014.
Text-A-Tip is a 24/7 anonymous text communication system for youth needing immediate mental health assistance for themselves or a friend. Members of the community can send a text message to a dedicated number and receive an immediate response from a licensed clinician while remaining completely anonymous. The anonymity makes it a comfortable place for students to share information and provides a safe outlet for voicing concerns about themselves and others. Prior to 2017, Text-A-Tip received 6,069 texts. In 2017, Text-A-Tip has received 6,278 texts.
The LCOI has also been proactive in prevention education surrounding heroin and opioid misuse and abuse. The LCOI has conducted many forums across Lake County to educate students, medical professionals, educators, and law enforcement officials on the dangers, signs and symptoms of drug use and misuse. Prevention is key to reduce the misuse of prescription medication and the abuse of illegal drugs.
In addition, Nerheim is collaborating with task forces that focus on the battle against child sex trafficking. The dark corners of the internet are making it much easier to target children and turn them into victims of human trafficking. Nerheim is currently working on strategies to combat this growing concern.
“I am extremely honored to receive this award by the Illinois State Crime Commission for the second time since taking office. The award is a testament to the exceptional team of prosecutors, investigators, victim coordinators and staff members at the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office whom go to work every day committed to seeking justice and serving our community,” Nerheim said. “It is through their hard work and dedication, along with our law enforcement and community partners, that we are able to accomplish our collective goals to make Lake County a safe place to live, work and raise a family. I also want to thank the Illinois State Crime Commission for all that they do on behalf of the people of Illinois. I am humbled to be recognized by such an outstanding organization,” he added.
The Illinois State Crime Commission/ Police Athletic League of Illinois has been recognized for its legislative efforts, concerning a number of laws serving the Chicagoland area and beyond.
These efforts include:
- DNA profiling of juvenile sex offenders
- Loss of license for underage possession of alcohol and drugs
- Loss of firearm owner’s identification card for convicted domestic batterers
- Proposal to criminalize the failure to report school crimes
- Support passage of law allowing communities to control local obscenity standards
- Introduced Dram Shop reform legislation, January 1997. ISCC Executive Director Jerry Elsner was able to get the liquor lobby to sit down with legislators and an anti-drunk driving group, and for the first time in Illinois, pass a law that gave monetary value to a wife killed in a drunk driving crash.
- Proposed taking guns away from those convicted of domestic violence. In January 1997, instituted “Mobilize Illinois ’97” to achieve passage of the bill.