MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Before a packed house, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell made his final State of the County address Tuesday afternoon.
It was the mayor's last address as his final term in office ends this year.
In years past, his address focused on county initiatives and the overall health of Shelby County.
One of the mayor's main focuses Tuesday was on what he called a growing opioid problem and the county's plan to combat it.
"The opioid epidemic is unmercifully impacting our community," Luttrell said. "Rural, urban, suburban, white, black, brown, wealthy and poor."
Luttrell said the opioid epidemic has taken the lives of more than 500 people in Shelby County over the last several years.
"We all agree we have an epidemic that must be addressed," Luttrell said.
To combat the problem, the mayor laid out a three-point plan, starting with a new education and awareness campaign.
The next step is to give tools to employers to recognize the signs of addiction in their employees, followed by using the legal system to claim damages.
"All these three approaches must be aggressively pursued and certainly, with the support of the community, aggressively enforced," Luttrell said.
"It don't matter who skins this cat as long as we get it skinned," said Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland.
Roland said he will work with Luttrell in his final year as mayor to help fix the county's opioid problem.
"I've been working with this for three years and I'm so proud that everyone is starting to get the message," Roland said. "I hate that we have to lose so many people for us to understand how bad it is."
Luttrell said a failure to invest in true prevention programs will mean a failure to find long-term solutions.