Chicago police to treat drug overdose scenes as potential homicides

There is a new effort underway in Chicago to hold drug dealers accountable for overdose deaths.

Video Transcript

- Policy at Chicago Police Department targets drug dealers and preventing drug overdoses.

BRENDAN DEENIHAN: When they eventually rule that, hey, the cause and manner here was overdose, if the detectives process the scene accordingly on the front end, then we can go back, work with our narcotics officers. We can try to figure out where they purchased from.

LEAH HOPE: The drug-induced homicide law has been used in other jurisdictions. Now at CPD, drug overdose scenes will be treated as potential homicide scenes.

AISHA BETANCOURT: I really look forward to positive changes in that retrospect. This is a good win.

SYLVIA SCHAFER: And I'm thankful, and I really hope that they enforce the law that's been on the books since 1989.

LEAH HOPE: Members of the forgotten victims of drug-induced homicide push CPD to put this law into use. Several parents whose children died from drug overdoses shared their stories.

CARLA VANWITZENBURG: To have it skipped over, their deaths skipped over, and not being prioritized as the victim of a criminal activity in any city is just horrendous.

BRENDA STURGEON: A lot of the neighboring towns need to follow through with this also. I know there's a lot of other neighboring towns that are doing really good in charging people with drug-induced homicide.

LEAH HOPE: Among the parents grieving and advocating for change at CPD, two retired Chicago police officers.

JOHN ROBERTS: Police officers, rally behind us now. We need you so badly. Get behind this law and fight for those families who lost a loved one.

TERRY ALMANZA: But let's start sending a message to these dealers that it's not OK, and that we are coming for you.

LEAH HOPE: The members say this is a group to which they never wanted to belong. But now they advocate for others and hope to prevent the pain of other families.