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Senator Baldwin Announces Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson as Guest for State of the Union

Baldwin, Chief Thompson to highlight their work taking on opioid and fentanyl crisis in Wisconsin

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) announced that Waukesha Chief of Police Daniel Thompson will be her guest at this year’s State of the Union address on Thursday. The Senator and Chief Thompson will be highlighting their work to combat the opioid and fentanyl epidemic.

“The opioid and fentanyl crisis has devastated families across the state who’ve watched their loved ones lose battles with addiction or be poisoned by fentanyl. This epidemic does not know state, county, or party lines – it touches us all – and we need to come together to fight it,” said Senator Baldwin. “At this year’s State of the Union, I look forward to honoring all those we’ve lost to the opioid and fentanyl epidemic and reaffirming my commitment to work with Chief Thompson and leaders across the state to end this crisis. Whether it’s cracking down on chemical suppliers and traffickers, strengthening our border, or investing in recovery and prevention services in our communities, I’m committed to tackling this epidemic and making a real difference. I thank Chief Thompson and all law enforcement who are on the front lines of this fight, and I am proud to support them.”

"In the battle against the opioid epidemic, it requires leaders and stakeholders to unite and declare 'enough is enough.' I take pride and am humbly honored to represent the brave and dedicated members of Wisconsin law enforcement, who tirelessly confront this crisis daily,” said Chief Thompson. “Joining Senator Baldwin in Washington, D.C. on Thursday is our declaration—we are ready, and we are determined to be a vital part of the solution. We are committed to saving lives in Waukesha and across Wisconsin."

Senator Baldwin is fighting to address this epidemic by expanding prevention and recovery resources, curbing the illicit drug supply chain, and keeping fentanyl from coming into our country. Last month, she voted for a bipartisan package that would have invested in high tech border security, passed her bill to crack down on chemical suppliers in China and traffickers in Mexico fueling this epidemic, and supported border patrol agents. Senator Baldwin is also leading the charge to close a trade loophole that is allowing China and other countries to bring illicit drugs like fentanyl into the country, undercut American manufacturers, and let products made by slave labor get into the hands of U.S. consumers. Senator Baldwin’s Safe Response Act also recently advanced in the Senate, legislation to reauthorize a critical grant program that allows states, local governments, and Tribes to train first responders on how to use life-saving overdose reversal drugs, like naloxone.

For Wisconsinites in recovery, Senator Baldwin worked to secure investments to combat substance use and treat substance use disorder in last year’s budget, including increasing support for her State Opioid Response Grant Authorization Act, to give communities resources to better combat the opioid epidemic.

Read a joint op-ed from Senator Baldwin and Chief Thompson below or here.

The opioid epidemic has impacted all of us. It’s time we do more to stop it.

By Senator Tammy Baldwin and Waukesha Chief of Police Daniel Thompson

In the early hours of a November morning in 2021, Michelle got a call that her son Cade – a freshman in college – had passed away. The night before, Cade had gone out with friends in his dorm and took a pill he thought was Percocet. It turned out to be 100 percent fentanyl.

“He had his entire life ahead of him,” his mother said. “He was home from college the weekend before he died talking about changing his major to psychology and how he wanted to travel the world. He deserved to learn from his mistake, not die from it.  He didn’t overdose from taking one pill.  He was poisoned.”

Sadly, this story is not unique in our state. In 2022, more than 1,800 Wisconsinites died of an overdose, including nearly 70 in Waukesha County. According to recent data, synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, were identified in 91 percent of opioid overdose deaths in Wisconsin. And too often, like Cade, they might not even know they are taking fentanyl – a drug that can kill the average person with just the amount that would fit on the tip of a pencil. With fentanyl, one pill can kill.

Year after year, our state is devastated by opioid-related deaths. This epidemic is impacting communities big and small, in rural and urban parts of our state. It’s an epidemic that doesn’t know county lines, let alone political divides. This touches all of us. We both have family and friends who have fought, and too often lost, battles with addiction. Too many Wisconsin families have an empty seat at the dinner table because of this epidemic.

This problem of course is not unique to Wisconsin. The fentanyl crisis is a complex and intertwined challenge – from lack of oversight of chemical suppliers in China and border security issues, to underinvestment in prevention, recovery, and treatment resources. To tackle it, it will take action on all fronts.

This year, as President Biden delivers his annual State of the Union to the country, we’ll be representing all of those who lost their lives to this epidemic, representing their loved ones, and representing those helping fight this crisis. The opioid epidemic is not a political issue. It’s a moral one. It’s high time we came together to do something about it.

Together with our partners at every level of government, community leaders and advocates, law enforcement and elected officials, we’re committed to making a difference. We have to crack down on the chemical manufacturers in China who are fueling this crisis, stop the cartels in Mexico who are profiting from this epidemic, and invest in border security and technology. We have to close loopholes that allow illicit drugs into the U.S. without proper inspection. We also have to give our local law enforcement and communities the resources and tools they need to clamp down on dealers and help those struggling with addiction get the care they need. While we will not be able to prevent every overdose or poisoning from happening, we can prevent more of those overdoses from taking our loved ones’ lives by increasing access to overdose-reversal drugs like naloxone.

We have made some progress in confronting this epidemic. In Congress, we’ve increased funding for prevention and recovery resources to help those battling addiction because we know that addiction is a real disease. Wisconsin has decriminalized fentanyl test strips, and we are working to make opioid reversal drugs like naloxone more widely available in our communities.

But we can’t fight this crisis alone and we can’t lose sight of what is at stake. It’s going to take all of us working together, committed to saving lives and turning the page on this dark chapter for our state. And the American people agree – 9 in 10 Americans are worried about fentanyl overdose deaths. We’re proud to stand together as we continue working with Republicans and Democrats to make real change, and we call on all of you to join us.

No parent, like Michelle, should have to wake up to the news their child has died of an overdose or poisoning. We can and must do more to turn the tide on the opioid epidemic and save lives.