“Fentanyl use is up dramatically and it’s showing in the statistics,” Palm Springs Police Chief Andrew Mills said.
Over 200 Riverside County residents have died from fentanyl overdose this year alone.
“It’s a significant drain on people’s lives, on the families, but also on society,” Chief Mills continued. “You walk down the streets, you see a person laying there dead, and it’s hard. It harms the community.”
So Palm Springs police are doing what they can to help reduce the use of fentanyl.
“One is we’re referring to people to resources,” Chief Mills said. “But, the resources are scarce. There aren’t enough drug beds for people to be rehabilitated, if they choose to. At the same time, we have to try, so we’ve tried to refer people to where they can get help. Second thing is enforcement and enforcement at the street level, where we’re getting pounds of methamphetamine and fentanyl and guns. We’re seeing so many guns that come with it.”
At the higher level, Riverside County has taken a tough stance on prosecuting fentanyl drug dealers.
And Chief Mills supports it.
“If you’re giving something to somebody that has a 40% chance of killing them and they die, you are culpable for their death,” Chief Mills said. “People should be aware because we have an aggressive DEA who is interested in prosecuting dealers for murder. I think that is the absolute right thing to do. We will assist them in any way we can put help with those cases together. So my hat’s off to the DEA on that.”
This won’t be an easy fight.
Until we reduce demand, we’re going to have fentanyl,” Chief Mills continued. “Until we really get serious with demand reduction, I don’t think we’re going to see a significant change and stop the use in our nation.”
But Chief Mills is confident.
“It’s not overwhelming,” he shared. “We expect this is our responsibility. We’ll continue at it and be aggressive in how we’re doing it. I think the most important message I can give to anybody right now is that one pill can kill. That’s as simple as we can possibly make it. You take the wrong pill, you’re done. So it’s best not to do it at all.”
Palm Springs police and paramedics have also been issued Narcan nasal sprays.
They are designed to stop the effects of opiates on the brain and restore breathing.
Now, PSPD officers have at least two sprays at hand in case of emergency, showing just how widespread this issue is.