A Message from Sheriff Scott Israel
ENDING THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC
A terrifying opioid epidemic is sweeping the nation—infecting our neighborhoods, poisoning our families and filling our morgues. Nationwide, nearly 33,000 people lost their lives to opioids in 2016—more than died in auto accidents or homicides.
Sadly, Broward is not immune from the devastating crisis, which knows no bounds and impacts individuals across nearly all demographic and socioeconomic categories. The numbers are alarming. In 2016, opioids claimed 582 lives in Broward—nearly two each day. And the death toll from this deadly menace is rising all the time. By the end of the year, deaths attributed to this threat will likely exceed 1,000 in Broward alone.
The dramatic uptick is largely the product of cheaply-made synthetic drugs, such as fentanyl and carfentanil, which are used as replacements for heroin. For instance, fentanyl is many times more potent than heroin, while carfentanil is up to 1,000 times more potent than heroin, and a very small dose can sedate a 13,000 pound elephant (while the same minuscule dose can easily kill a person).
In more than 30 years of working in law enforcement, I have personally witnessed the horrific damage drugs can inflict on individuals, families and communities. The drugs may change over the years, but the overall narcotics problem remains. While this public health emergency is historic and its impact far reaching, the Broward Sheriff’s Office is doing all we can to make a difference and end this deadly drug plague.
BSO is a member of the Community Action Team, comprised of law enforcement, treatment providers, epidemiologists, first responders, physicians, the Broward Medical Association, Broward Health, Memorial Health, United Way and many others. The team has developed a three-pronged attack at ending this epidemic via a combination of enforcement, education and intervention.
While BSO drug detectives and deputies are working at a feverish pace to enforce drug laws and arresting those responsible for selling these dangerous drugs, we are also educating the public through town hall meetings and community forums. Education campaigns also continue in middle and high schools, PTAs and community organizations. In addition, BSO has acquired funding to outfit hundreds of additional deputies, along with first responders from fire rescue, with the anti-narcotic overdose drug Narcan. That move will no doubt save lives.
This war on opioids is not our first fight to end a drug epidemic gripping Broward. We’ve been here before and we’ve had much success. When the highly-dangerous, imported, designer drug Flakka suddenly appeared on the scene a few years ago and became an out-of-control local plague, we met it head on. Within months, we effectively stamped out the deadly drug from Broward’s streets. I am hopeful we will have similar success in the battle against opioids.
If you know someone struggling with these dangerous drugs, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Call 2-1-1.
The opioid crisis is very real and very deadly. But, together, BSO and our community partners are committed to ending this alarming epidemic and saving lives.
Sheriff Scott Israel
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