Washington — Michigan State Police won a $1.46 million competitive federal grant that will help collaborations with other law enforcement departments statewide cracking down on heroin distribution and trafficking.

The funds must be used to investigate illicit activities related to the distribution of heroin or prescription painkillers under the terms of the grant from the Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services Anti-Heroin Task Force program.

Michigan was among six states to receive a 2015 grant from a pot of roughly $5.78 million. The recipients must be in areas with high rates of primary treatment admissions for abuse of heroin and other opioids.

The number of U.S. heroin users has grown by nearly 300,000 over a decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The heroin death rate quadrupled over a decade, reaching nearly 8,300 in 2013.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Tuesday joined attorneys general from 37 states and the District of Columbia in a letter to Congress, urging federal lawmakers to pass legislation that would help states more effectively confront the growing epidemic of heroin and opioid abuse.

The bill, known as the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, would expand educational and prevention efforts and broaden the availability of the drug Naloxone among first responders, so they may help reverse overdoses when they’re called to a scene. The legislation would also strengthen prescription drug-monitoring programs to help states track prescription drug diversion.

“More than 100 Americans die as a result of overdose in this country every day – more than half of them caused by prescription drugs or heroin,” the attorneys general wrote.

“Law enforcement has always been on the front line when it comes to drug crises, but we cannot arrest ourselves out of the current epidemic.”

In announcing the grant, Michigan’s two U.S. senators applauded the award and underscored the need to address the opioid epidemic.

“Too many Michigan families have lost loved ones to substance abuse and addiction,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, said in a statement.

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, said, “This funding will help the Michigan State Police combat the illegal trafficking of opioids and make our neighborhoods safer places to live and work.”

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