The following was posted on the Sandwich Message Board by Sandwich Police Chief Douglas Wyman. Thought it was worth sharing.
Yesterday (March 13th) I attended the monthly meeting of the Carroll County Chiefs of Police and for as many months as I can remember our main topic of discussion was heroin. This drug is simply ravaging our State, our county and our communities. Heroin addiction, overdoses, and deaths are at all time highs, (no pun intended) in Carroll County and has reached epidemic proportions in our State. Conway, as an example has responded four (4) heroin overdoses since March 1 alone. The Town of Ossipee has had several overdose calls and at least three (3) drug related deaths since the first of the year. NH, as a whole had three hundred (300) drug related overdose deaths in 2014. Once again overdose deaths far outnumber those killed on our highways.
The Carroll County Association of Chiefs of Police is compromised of local, county and state law enforcement executives and the County Attorney along with representatives from our federal partners. We have been working cooperatively with our partners in social services: Restorative Justice, DCYF, Carroll County Coalition for Public Health, Mental Health and others. I would really like to thank Sen. Kelly Ayotte for her attention to this crisis, not only in our State but in our county. Every month the Senator’s northern law enforcement liaison is at our meetings listening about the issues your law enforcement are faced with in Carroll County and then reporting back to the Senator. One of those issues was the use of Narcan by law enforcement and by caregivers and the Senator responded with legislation making it easier to do just that at the federal level. Some people will look at this legislation about officers and care givers being able to deliver this drug alongside EMS providers and say “Let those homeless bums die” or “Let them die it just solves the problem quicker.” Well no, it does not and we are not going to solve the problem with a high body count. Not all heroin addicts are homeless. Most function well on a daily basis and have steady jobs. What does a heroin addict look like? What if it’s your child, wife, husband, mother or grandmother that just overdosed? These are people. Would you not want them saved if they could be?
What really hampers our efforts and prevents us for getting any traction is the lack of treatment services our county possesses. Unfortunately, there are not any. Another item that hampers is us is when a person who wants help cannot get it, because (And check your own insurance policies now) most insurance policies now do not cover in-patient care for addiction services and the out-patient care are limited. Medicaid just lowered the amount they would cover from 90 days to 6, what effective treatment can occur in just 6 days?)
This is a community problem that knows no boundaries, even in towns that the problem does not seem to be prevalent. Sandwich for instance, had one resident overdose on Heroin last year. However, when they did they were visiting someone out of town when it occurred. We have seen Ecstasy and meth in town, we have people who are addicted to prescription medication, and we have drug addicts just like everywhere else. We assist other area law enforcement agencies with search warrants and arrest warrants looking for this stuff and the people who peddle it. Then there’s the crime. Read the Carroll County Independent from March 12, 2015 and see how many people were indicted for Heroin Possession and one indicted for Possession of Ketamine. Most of the 66 burglaries, 167 thefts, 54 domestics, and 56 juvenile cases we have handled over the past five years, most were drug related. The domestics and the juvenile cases we handled, most have an underlying substance abuse issue. We need you to write to your legislators asking them to fund treatment facilities and programs, to get insurance companies on board, to assist in getting our county united so we can apply for grants and have the ability to attract treatment providers. We are not going to be able to arrest our way out this problem, nor is it just a criminal justice issue. For too long Carroll County has not received the individual attention it deserves. Carroll County has been divided, sectioned off, lumped in with other counties for block grants and other services and never receiving the full benefit of these programs, never giving us the ability to be united like the other counties. Often in Carroll County efforts have been started and stopped in an attempt to get services for our county, in the areas of juvenile diversion and drug and alcohol treatment but often end solely because we cannot get funding or sustained funding.
We need your help. Educate yourselves about this epidemic that is seriously effecting your criminal justice system, healthcare system and other aspects of your life whether it be directly or indirectly. Then, write to your legislator regarding the help we need.
Thank you for your attention and support,
Chief Douglas Wyman