Will County wins grant to fight heroin epidemic

Illinois awarded $8.9M by Department of Justice

JOLIET – Will County was awarded a federal grant that it applied for three months ago.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced earlier in September that almost $9 million has been awarded to Illinois law enforcement agencies and one nonprofit to help support DNA analysis capacity enhancement, youth mental health services, and costs of equipment and personnel, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin,

Within this latest funding release, Will County was awarded $56,296 from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program to support heroin addiction prevention and education efforts in select schools.

The grant will be split two ways. Will County's half, or $28,148, will pay for a Robert Crown Center for Health Education program that will be taught to students in Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210 and Wilmington School District 209.

Will County receives JAG funds, which can go toward equipment such as in-car cameras and software, each year.

But in recent years, the money has gone toward fighting the heroin epidemic.

JAG funds were first used in 2013 by the county to fight heroin when it started the Robert Crown heroin education program in Valley View School District 365U.

In 2014, the grant was used for Narcan training of local law enforcement. In 2015, the grant expanded the Robert Crown program to Plainfield School District 202.

The county has agreed each year to share the other half of the grant with the city of Joliet.

About $6.7 million was awarded in JAG money to local law enforcement and criminal justice programs throughout the state.

“This is an important investment in the safety and security of communities across our state,” Durbin said in the news release. “These initiatives strengthen the Illinois justice system, and I will work to ensure Illinois’ continued access to the federal programs and resources that keep our families safe.”