Puyallup: News

Pierce County police chiefs to host community conversation on opioid, heroin crisis

This file photo shows OxyContin pills are arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. In a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in December 2015, drug overdoses in the U.S. rose again in 2014, driven by surges in deaths from heroin and powerful prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and Oxycontin. Overall, overdose deaths in the U.S. surpassed 47,000.
This file photo shows OxyContin pills are arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. In a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in December 2015, drug overdoses in the U.S. rose again in 2014, driven by surges in deaths from heroin and powerful prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and Oxycontin. Overall, overdose deaths in the U.S. surpassed 47,000. AP

Heroin is a growing problem for first responders everywhere.

But police chiefs throughout Pierce County hope that by banding together to lead a community conversation on the opioid and heroin crisis in the region some impact can be made.

“It’s not just a problem in our community,” Puyallup Police Chief Bryan Jeter said. “It’s a county, state and national problem.”

Instead of having community meetings separately, Jeter approached his fellow chiefs who are part of the Pierce County Police Chief’s Association.

All of the chiefs of the 16 agencies in Pierce County, and in the association, jumped on board.

“There’s a lot of property crimes from addicts to feed their habit,” Jeter said. “There’s complications from overdose(s). The impact of drug use is affecting our first responders.”

Experts from the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug abuse institute, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Tacoma/Pierce County Health Department and Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist are part of a panel of guest speakers at the community conversation event scheduled for June 29.

“Heroin addiction stems from prescription opioid medications,” Jeter said. “In most cases someone was legitimately injured in a car accident, and they were prescribed highly addictive opioid. It’s powerful and addictive. It effects housewives, fathers — it’s not the typical junkie. It’s hard to get off of it.”

As Jeter puts it, the conversation will focus on the how’s and why’s of heroin and opioid addiction.

Sumner Police Chief Brad Moericke is inviting his whole community to the lecture and question and answer session at Pioneer Park in downtown Puyallup.

“It impacts all of us,” he said. “It’s a conversation we need to have for better understanding.”

The Heroin and Prescription Opioid Abuse Community Conversation is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 29 at the Pavilion in Pioneer Park.

Those who plan on attending the event are encouraged to send in their questions ahead of time via the Puyallup Police Department’s social media page, facebook.com/PuyallupPD/.

Heather DeRosa: 253-256-7043, @herald_hderosa

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