These days, police officers don’t just carry a gun and a badge – they carry a potentially life-saving opioid antidote called Narcan, and they have to use it a lot more frequently than they use their guns.
Law enforcement and other emergency responders have a front-row seat to the savagery of the opioid epidemic.
“I think heroin is just coming back around from the older days,” said Investigator Mark Chrysler. “The problem is I think people forgot what it does to the body"
Chrysler grew up in a law enforcement family, but not even having a father who spent 44 years as a police officer could prepare him for the ugly underbelly of the opioid epidemic.
“One time was in the bedroom next to an infant that was in a playpen and the person was unresponsive,” Chrysler said.
More than once while on patrol for the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office, Chrysler used Narcan to bring heroin and opioid users from the brink of death – sometimes more than once in the same day.
"They got released from the hospital, couple hours later, overdosed again at a different location. Ended up using Narcan a second time,” Chrysler said.
And where meth makers might stock up on cold meds, heroin makers will stock up on plastic baggies.
"The users will cut out the actual corner of a small, plastic bag after they put the substance in it,” said Investigator Frederick Peck.
The drugs Chrysler would take off the streets, Investigator Frederick Peck would analyze.
It’s something the Tru Narc – a $25,000 substance reader the Sheriff’s Office got about a year ago – makes much easier. They just have to point it at the baggie.
And as if the opioid epidemic didn’t have enough of a strangle hold on Central New York, the opioid pain medication Fentanyl came on the scene like a fatal flurry.
"Fentanyl is 100 times more powerful than morphine,” Peck said.
It’s not a city problem. Fentanyl-laced heroin killed two people within weeks in rural Otsego County in 2016.
It’s also ravaging the Oneida County Jail – and you’re paying for it.
“If you asked me three or four years ago, are you going to be half a million dollars over in overtime because of a heroin epidemic, I’d say that you were crazy,” said Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol. “But obviously it's here and it's out of control.”
How are they smuggling the heroin into the Oneida County Jail? That’s in part two of Overdosed in the Mohawk Valley, coming up in the NEWSChannel 2 Live at Five Newshour.
From 4-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, we'll also have a phone number people can call to speak to local experts and have their questions answered, along with a live web chat. You can call 315-624-0325, or join the live chat at wktv.com/news/opioidcrisis.