Crow Wing County, a north-central land of 64,000 people, has a problem. In the past few years, thanks to the growing abundance and mind-blowing cheapness of meth, drug use has been on the rise.
In 2014, the sheriff’s department handled 82 drug-related cases. Four years later, that had shot up to 204. About 80 percent of the county's imprisoned residents are there because of drugs, alcohol, or committing crimes in order to buy drugs or alcohol.
Last week, the Crow Wing County Board sat down in Brainerd’s historic courthouse to hash out solutions. It’s a grim subject. In 2018, emergency services responded to 60 overdoses, according to Sheriff’s Lt. Andy Galles.
Upon hearing the stats, Crow Wing County Commissioner Paul Koering hand this to say:
“I don’t know why we’re in such a big hurry to save somebody like this,” Koering declared, according to the Brainerd Dispatch. “I guess it sounds kind of harsh, but it kind of gets rid of a problem, in my mind.”
County Administrator Tim Houle was quick to jump in. “I think what Commissioner Koering is meaning to say is that when looking for allocation of resources, we should consider the best way to preserve life and maintain the quality of life in CWC simultaneously,” he said in what can only be described as a very loose translation of the original statement.
(Koering declined to comment on the incident, and Houle didn’t respond to interview requests.)
In the meantime, plenty of other people have responded via the Dispatch’s Facebook page.
“Can you imagine the lack of empathy you’d have to have for another human being to think this way?” one asked.
“I guess the whole ‘pro-life’ thing only counts for people you deem personally worthy, huh Paul?” asked another.
“Hey Paul Koering!” another chimed in. “EVERY LIFE IS WORTH SAVING!”
But others agreed with the commissioner. One went as far as to suggest legalizing “all drugs” and letting “the problem” “sort itself out.” Remarks of “survival of the fittest” and “you can’t help people who won’t help themselves” peppered the thread.
Koering is a lifelong Crow Wing resident and spent eight years as a Republican state senator. Part of his appeal is his political experience, and part of it is his business acumen. He just happens to be the former owner of two liquor stores.