Officers battle growing heroin issue in W-S

Officers battle growing heroin issue in W-S
March 18
00:00 2016



In recent years the number of people dying from heroin and opiate has increased throughout the Triad. In Forsyth County between 2013 and 2014 the number of heroin deaths jumped from just nine to 21.

Although The Chronicle was unable to receive the number of deaths for 2015 during the monthly public safety news conference on Wednesday, March 9, members of the Winston-Salem Police said numbers are steadily increasing. Reports indicate that in 2016, Forsyth County EMT’s have already responded to over 100 overdose calls.

In an attempt to combat the growing issue, the police throughout the city are using a new tool to keep people alive.

According to Lt. William Penn, officers have been using a drug called Narcan since late last year to reverse the effects of overdoses. Penn mentioned that using Narcan or Naloxone helps respiratory issues and other problems associated with overdosing. Since September police has have used the drug seven times in order to save someone’s life.

“I’m not able to go into detail about the cases, but Narcan has saved lives,” Penn continued. “The life of those in medical need take precedent over these minor criminal acts.”

Penn also mentioned the Good Samaritan law which ensures that people won’t get prosecuted for minor drug offenses if they call 911 in response to an overdose incident. Penn said people might not call for help when someone is suffering a drug overdose because they fear prosecution.

“As you might imagine, the successful use of Naloxone was possible due to residents calling first responders in a quick manner,” he said. “We don’t want people to hesitate to seek assistance for those in need for fear of prosecution.”

Chief Barry Rountree said as an agency, the WSPD will do anything they can to protect the public and also save lives when they have the opportunity.

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