Richmond Police explain strategy to combat heroin overdoses - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Richmond Police explain strategy to combat heroin overdoses

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Richmond Police are responding to a growing problem in our area--the use of heroin and overdose deaths from the drug. The numbers are on the rise and department higher-ups are now telling us what they're doing about it.

Department leaders describe this as a proactive approach, which covers many different levels of our community to get a problem that is killing Richmonders under control.

Taking a look at the numbers we've uncovered, puts the problem into perspective. Since 2012, 66 people in the city have died from overdoses; now we've learned 42 of those deaths were heroin-related.

"We really need to stem the tide and start decreasing the impact that this drug has on individual's lives," Richmond Police Major Steve Drew said.

The department strategy he described starts within its own ranks. It is now dispatching officers to overdose incidents in order to track where the drugs are coming from.

"So you still have the ambulance authority that will respond and the fire department that will respond, but also now the police department will respond," Drew explained. "We'll try to gather as much information from that scene that we can."

They'll then share that the information with federal, state and local partners.

"What are you seeing, how's it packaged, where's it being sold, what method is being used, what's the purity level," he listed of what they're examining.

The department is also taking the fight to the new justice center to see if it can combat the trend through the inmates.

Even the youngest in the community will be targeted by working with the school system.

"We always talk about what SROs (School Resource Officers) do in the schools with active shooters and critical situations," Drew noted. "We also want to send a message about heroin and what to look for, what might be some signs."

The hope is to raise awareness on every level.

"I think any approach we do if we make one difference, if we save one life, I think that's a success," Drew added. "Let's look at it the other way—what we can't do is sit back and hope that it stops. We have to try."

It is important to note, this is not just a city issue. As we've reported in the past, heroin and heroin overdoses stretch into the counties, as well.

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