Save the Date – May 4 – One Pill Can Kill education series is back. Hear from young people. Learn about the fentanyl poisoning crisis in our community and what you can do. Details coming soon.

Appeal flyer

2022 One Pill Can Kill

Education Series

Opioids & Illicit Fentanyl Poisoning

The Fentanyl Crisis: What Every Person in Hastings Must Know

According to the CDC, overdoses and drug poisonings are now the leading cause of death in Americans ages 18 – 45. Illicit fentanyl is responsible for the majority of those deaths. This is both a national and local crisis.

Fentanyl IS in Hastings. Illicit fentanyl is laced in pills looking like pharmaceutical drugs such as Xanax, Percocet, Adderall, etc. It’s also cut into heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana.

Youth & young adults buy pills through social media, such as SnapChat, not knowing they’re buying deadly fentanyl. Naloxone (Narcan) can counteract opioid overdoses if used quickly.

In 2022, the United Way of Hastings, in collaboration with multiple community and national organizations, presented a 5-part educational series on illicit fentanyl.

Education partners included the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Dakota County Drug Task Force, Hastings Police Department, Allina Health, Our Saviour’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (OSEL), RiseUp Recovery, parents and family members, and concerned community members.

Topics included:

  • What is illicit fentanyl and why are fentanyl poisonings rising so significantly?
  • How counterfeit pills are produced and distributed.
  • Why young people are at higher risk of fentanyl poisoning.
  • How social media and the internet contribute to the risks and make obtaining illicit drugs as easy as ordering a pizza.
  • The danger of counterfeit prescription pills.
  • Signs of an opioid overdose and what you can do.
  • What law enforcement is doing in the Hastings area, Dakota County, and the state of Minnesota.
  • Steve’s Law and other legislation affecting community members.
  • What is Narcan and how to use it.
  • Creating an “exit plan” to help your child, teen, or young adult know what to do if they are pressured to take a pill or use drugs.
  • Reducing the stigma of overdoses and poisonings.
  • Support for students in Hastings.
  • Alternatives to substance use when faced with stress, trauma, or other challenging situations.
  • How to reach out for help for yourself or others.
  • What does addiction treatment look like, how substance use disorder is diagnosed, and what services are insurance eligible.
  • Treatment options and other resources.

Each event had 10-15 resource tables staffed with a wide range of materials.


April 26, 2022

The Fentanyl Crisis and Why I Should Care 

View Dead On Arrival Video:

View April 26 Event Video:


Special guest – Amy Neville, national speaker and founder of the Alexander Neville Foundation

Bridgette Norring, Hastings mom

Bryan Hermerding, Captain, Commander, Dakota County Drug Task Force

Bryan Schafer, Hastings Police Chief

Drew Cooper, Hastings High School counselor

Jacob Willers, Hastings police officer, School Resource Officer

Joe Leko, Dakota County Sheriff

Justin Thomas, Allina Health, licensed alcohol and drug counselor

May 3, 2022

Fentanyl Poisoning & How It Impacts My Family & Community

Speaker presentations and Q&A discussion


Bryan Hermerding, Captain, Commander, Dakota County Drug Task Force

Members of the Dakota County Drug Task Force

Justin Thomas, Allina Health, licensed alcohol and drug counselor

Tiffany Neuharth, RiseUp Recovery co-founder

May 10, 2022

Signs of Drug Use & How to Talk to Your Kids

“Top Secret” project, interactive presentation, Q&A from the audience


Ann Lindberg, ISD 197 Chemical Health Director, Intermediate ISD 197 Chemical Health Coordinator

Whitney Rinowski, Hastings police officer, Community Engagement Officer

November 10, 2022

Fentanyl Poisoning & Why I Should Care: Local Update

Speaker presentations,  Q&A from the audience


United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents

Bryan Hermerding, Captain, Commander, Dakota County Drug Task Force

December 1, 2022

Protect Your Family from Illicit Fentanyl: Resources & Options

Speaker presentations,  Q&A from the audience


Bryan Hermerding, Captain, Commander, Dakota County Drug Task Force

Dave Wilske, Hastings Police Chief

Justin Thomas, Allina Health, licensed alcohol and drug counselor

Jane Neumiller-Bustad, Helping Kids Succeed program manager for UWH

Tiffany Neuharth, RiseUp Recovery co-founder

View the December 1 event video:

Event sponsors

Allina Health

Dakota County Sheriff’s Office

Factory Motor Parts

Our Saviour’s Evangelical Lutheran Church

Drew Cooper

Drew Cooper

Drew Cooper is a school counselor at Hastings High School for students with the last names M-R and AVID students. Drew completed his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida and his masters degree from Concordia University – Chicago. Prior to moving to Hastings, Drew was a teacher, counselor, ALC coordinator, and coach in the Chicago area for ten years. Drew has been at Hastings High School for the past six years as a counselor, coach, and co-curricular sponsor. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Brianna, and his two daughters (ages 4 and 7). 

DTF Agent

DTF Agent with seven years of experience as a police officer and one year as a DTF Agent will be presenting.  Agent is a drug recognition expert among other special assignments with a specialization in fentanyl, heroin, and opioids.

Ann Linberg

Ann Lindberg

Ann Lindberg has been the Director of Chemical Health for the West St Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan School District since 1999. She completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology and has been a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC) in Minnesota since 1998 and a National Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counselor (NAODA) since 1986. Ann has worked in inpatient, outpatient and residential dual diagnosis settings as a therapist and administrator specializing in the treatment of adolescent chemical use and abuse.

From 2013-2020 Ann served as the chairperson for the Minnesota Association of Resources for Recovery and Chemical Health (MARRCH) School Section, a group working within secondary schools. MARRCH is a non-profit professional organization of chemical health agencies and individuals striving to raise awareness about chemical dependency and the power of recovery. 

In 2014, Ann was recognized by the Dakota County Attorney’s Office and County Attorney James Backstrom with the Citizenship Award. Ann received this award, “In recognition of her dedication, commitment and outstanding leadership in chemical health and violence prevention initiatives on behalf of youth in Dakota County.”

Today, teen vaping and counterfeit drugs along with teen drug abuse continue to be a major concern in schools and communities across the nation and things are no different in Dakota County. Ann Lindberg-Borgen, Chemical Health Coordinator for District #197 continues to work diligently to provide prevention, education, intervention, and resources to teens and their families.

Whitney Rinowski

Whitney Rinowski

Officer Whitney Rinowski joined the Hastings Police Department as a patrol officer in 2014. Over her 8 years of service as an officer, she has looked for opportunities to engage with the community beyond patrolling the city and responding to calls for service. Moving into the Community Engagement Officer position in 2021, Officer Rinowski has expanded her community outreach abilities and has collaborated with various community members to improve the quality of life for those who live and work in the City of Hastings.

Officer Rinowski received her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Psychology from Saint Nobert College in 2010 and her Associate’s Degree in Law Enforcement from Normandale Community College in 2012.

Joe Leko

Joe Leko

Chief Deputy Joe Leko is a lifelong Dakota County resident.  He grew up in West St. Paul and attended Archbishop Brady High School (now St. Croix Lutheran).  He has lived in Burnsville, Farmington and currently in lives in Inver Grove Heights.

Joe joined the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office in September 1997.  Over his 24 plus years with the Office he has served a variety of roles including court security, transport, school resource officer, patrol, recreational safety, drug task force investigator and gang investigator.   He was promoted to Sergeant in 2006 and assigned to patrol.  He spent six years with the Dakota County Drug Task Force two of which as the Commander overseeing operations.  He served 11 years as a SWAT team member and was a certified explosive breacher.  In 2011 he was promoted to Captain and assigned to patrol and then the jail and courts before Sheriff Tim Leslie appointed him to serve as Chief Deputy in 2015.  He oversees a $24 million budget and a staff of over 200 employees.

Joe holds an Associate of Arts Degree in Law Enforcement from Inver Hills Community College, a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Arts in Public Safety and Law Enforcement Leadership from the University of St. Thomas.  He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, Session 264 in the spring of 2016.

Chief Deputy Leko has been a board member of North Central HIDTA since 2018 and a board member of the Dakota County Drug Task Force since 2015.

Charlie Black

Charlie Black

Charlie Black is the school counselor for 8th graders at HMS. Charlie grew up in Hastings and is very happy to be back in the community. He completed his undergraduate degree in Psychology at St. John’s University and then went on to earn a Masters Degree in Education Counseling at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. Charlie then moved back to Hastings and began his career in school counseling at the Hastings Middle School in 2004. He enjoys camping, fishing, and spending time outdoors with his wife, Melissa, and his two boys. Charlie was honored as the Employee of the Year in 2012-2013 for Hastings Public Schools.

Amy Neville

Amy Neville

Since losing Alexander, I have dedicated my life to educating and spreading awareness of the dangers that killed him. If you know me already or have seen my work, you know that I cannot say enough about the pain of losing my baby, but this is bigger than one fourteen-year-old. So many more adolescents and people of all ages are having their lives cut short through no fault of their own. 

It is my mission to bring light to this issue and advocate for changes. In the last year, I have met with students, school counselors, school boards, PTAs, Scout troops, DEA agents, prosecutors, every county sheriff in Southern California, State and Federal politicians, and many more people to share and learn what WE can do to help. This is a difficult hill to climb, but I know that our efforts are helping.

Justin Thomas

Justin is a Master of Addiction Counseling: Advanced Practice, graduate of Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies, and is working at Allina Health Hospitals to assess and refer patients to addiction treatment.  Allina Health is building an intensive outpatient chemical dependency treatment program in Hastings at the Nininger Clinic, where Justin will be the lead clinician.

Bryan Hermerding

Bryan Hermerding

Captain Bryan Hermerding joined the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office as a Boat and Water Intern in 2004.  Over his 18 years of service to the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office, he has served as a Parks, Lakes and Trails Ranger, Correctional Deputy, and started as a general duty deputy in 2010.  Since 2010, Captain Hermerding has served in a variety of additional roles including court security, transport, patrol deputy, drug task force investigator, gang investigator and team leader.  He was promoted to Sergeant in 2018 and assigned to continue as a Team Leader with the Dakota County Drug Task Force.  Captain Hermerding was promoted to Captain in 2021 and assigned as the Commander of the Dakota County Drug Task Force overseeing all task force operations.  Captain Hermerding served 3 years as a SWAT operator, 9 years as a firearms instructor and 3 years on the Dive Team. 

Bryan holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice and Social Science with a minor in Political Science from Bethel University in St. Paul.     

Jacob Willers

Jake Willers has been a Police Officer for six and a half years and has been a School Resource Officer for the City of Hastings Police Department since 2020. Officer Willers is also a part of the Hastings Police Department Mental Health Crisis Team. Officer Willers attended Minnesota State University Mankato and received a bachelor’s degree in Law Enforcement along with an associate’s degree in Psychology.

Bridgette Norring

Bridgette Norring

Bridgette is a mother of three from Hastings, MN. At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, Bridgette left her job with the State of Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety to care for her family. Shortly after, Devin, her oldest son, lost his life to a counterfeit pill he believed to be Percocet. That counterfeit pill contained a lethal dose of fentanyl. Devin, a recent 2019 graduate from Hastings High School, was only 19 years old at the time of his death. Devin had plans of visiting California the summer of 2020 to explore the colleges that would help him further his music career that he was passionate about. A single counterfeit fentanyl pill erased all of Devin’s hopes and dreams when it claimed his life.

Bridgette along with her husband, Tom, and children, Hayley and Caden realized quickly after losing Devin the urgency in raising awareness and educating as many people as possible in hopes of preventing the loss of another life to fentanyl. Bridgette has been working closely with her local United Way of Hastings, City officials, County Drug Task Force, City Police, Minnesota State Legislators, educators, and fellow advocates dedicated to the cause.

Bridgette has always been dedicated to her family. Her family will be expanding shortly with the much anticipated birth of her first grandchild.

Bryan Schafer

Chief Bryan D. Schafer  

Chief Bryan D. Schafer is a 38-year veteran of law enforcement.  He served nearly 23 years with the Minneapolis Police Department and before being appointed as the Police Chief for the City of Hastings in November 4, 2013. 

Schafer completed his Associates Degree in 1984 and his Bachelor’s Degree at Metropolitan State University in 2005, graduating with honors. His senior thesis, “Police and their Perceived Image:  How Community Influence Officers’ Job Satisfaction” was published in the Police Practice and Research: An International Journal (PPR), February 1, 2009. Schafer is 2008 graduate of the Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management Institute for Police and a 2005 graduate of Northwestern University Center for Public Safety’s, School of Police Staff and Command.

In 2006 Schafer was instrumental in collaborating with community/criminal justice partners to influence juvenile justice reform in Hennepin County resulting in significant decreases in juvenile violent crime and was presented with the 2007 Leadership Award.  These successes were further recognized by his peers when Schafer received the Gary P. Hayes Memorial Award while attending the Police Executive Research Forum’s Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. on March 26, 2009.  The Gary P. Hayes Memorial Award honors the memory of PERF’s first executive director, who helped lead a major wave of improvements in American policing. Schafer also received the IACP/Motorola Webber Seavey Award on October 7, 2009 for promoting a standard of excellence that exemplifies law enforcement’s contribution and dedication to the quality of life in local communities. Schafer has also participated in three documentaries: Urban Warfare, Discovery Investigation, and The History Channel.

As Police Chief for the City of Hastings, Schafer has instituted organizational change by creating the Deputy Police Chief and Patrol Commander ranks.  These new positions helped establish a clear chain of command and job responsibilities resulting in a positive, high functioning, department balanced with firm/fair accountability. In his tenure, he has hired/promoted three-quarters of today’s employees. A 4-year degree is required of our new police officers and those aspiring to be or who have assumed supervisory roles must complete a supervisory training series.  In addition, he reopened the public service counter, implemented Body-Worn Cameras, participated and initiated Domestic and Sexual Assault protocols established by MN CASA and 360 Communities.  The collaboration with 360 Communities and Dakota County brought about on-site advocacy and community services coordinators at HPD.  Schafer formerly served as the President of the Dakota County Chiefs of Police Association, served on the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grant oversight committee, Electronic Crimes Joint Powers Committee, Adult Detention Alternatives Initiative Executive Committee (ADAI), and United Way of Hastings Board of Directors.  

Tiffany Neuharth

Tiffany Neuharth 

Tiffany Neuharth is the Executive Director of RISE UP Recovery, a Recovery Community Organization serving Hastings, MN, and surrounding areas. They provide Peer Recovery Support Services, recovery housing, naloxone distribution, training and education. Tiffany is a licensed alcohol and drug counselor and certified peer recovery specialist reciprocal with over 20 years experience in the field of substance use disorder recovery. She speaks to and trains a wide range of audiences, providing education and real-life experiences around recovery. Her goal is to reduce commonly held stigmas and misconceptions around substance use disorders while making recovery accessible to everyone.