Despite making numerous arrests and offering available resources, police in Murfreesboro, Tennessee are concerned about how the opioid crisis is playing out in their community. The Murfreesboro police rolled out a program last August that allowed officers to use Narcan. Already in 2019, officers have used the nasal spray on at least 14 overdose victims. That is nearly double the number of uses from August to December 2018, where it was used nine times. Narcan or Naloxone has the ability to reverse the effects of an opioid crisis in a matter of minutes.
Through state grants, Murfreesboro police currently have 275 doses of Narcan. In 2018, there were 11 overdose deaths. So far in 2019, only three deaths have been reported. This, of course, is numbers of an already disturbing trend that dates as far back as 2004. For nearly 15 years, opioid deaths in Tennessee alone were higher than the national average.
According to Lt. Don Fanning of the MPD, opioid addiction can affect anyone. “It’s rich, it’s poor, doesn’t matter what community you come from,” he said. Fanning also added that it has affected people from those with good paying jobs to those in low-income. “It cuts across race, sex, nationality, there is no barriers at all,” he said.
The police department regularly trains its personnel on the use of Narcan and its importance. The need for it is obvious considering that the cycle of opioid abuse continues even with the number of arrests being made and dangerous drug-related trends coming to light. An official in Rutherford County has made arrests in recent months. One of the more recent arrests were two men: Laborious Fuller and Reginald Womack. Both men were involved in a drug ring responsible for a handful of overdoses in the state with most of them involving heroin laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is a cheaper but even more dangerous drug that has claimed countless lives and making the opioid crisis a little worse.
Yet, Fanning believes that recovery is one of the keys to stopping the opioid crisis. And despite that, he’s noticing a disturbing trend. The trend is that users are finding dealers that offer drugs that are potentially more dangerous and most likely opens to door to a potential, yet fatal overdose. To understand the problem better, Murfreesboro police have implemented a tracking system that reports drug overdoses via an Electronic Reporting System. Police enter information about the use of Narcan and send it to the state.
Prior to the implementation, the police had no easy way to track this type of information.