EDITORIAL: Opioid Epidemic: Give Police More Resources

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 10 May 2017 04:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

The Carolina Beach Town Council recently approved hiring two new employees to enforce rules governing when dogs are allowed on the beach front. One full time Beach Ranger and another part-time position. If you get caught violating the rules, you can get a warning or a $250 fine.

If the Town Council is willing to hire additional employees to patrol the beach for dog violations, they should be more than willing to fund additional police officers, equipment and outreach programs in an effort to address the local impacts of a national opioid / heroin epidemic.

Someone posted a picture of a syringe they found on the side of the road in Carolina Beach last week on Facebook. (See report on page 1-A). That sparked numerous comments from citizens about their encounters with used needles laying on the street sides, in area parks and other public areas. Many people commented about a lack of police presence in our community, the need for more police officers, and that they feel the Town should step up efforts to address the problem.
Good point. Give the police department the resources and manpower to address a problem that has over the last decade become a nationwide epidemic. That bares repeating, because no matter how much money we give the police department, it will never solve the problem 100%. However, it's a good place to start.

Again, if the Town is willing to hire people to write citations for dog violations, our elected leaders should be more than willing to provide law enforcement with additional resources.

Does that mean plain clothes officers walking a regular beat? Community watch programs to encourage people who find used needles to call 911?

They are trained officers of the law, it's their area of expertise.

Here's a controversial idea, a syringe exchange program. North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition Syringe Exchange Program has an office in Wilmington inside a office called Bridges at-3951 Market St., Building B. (910) 795-7984 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

According to their website, "Syringe exchange programs are one of the most effective public health interventions for decreasing the transmission rates of HIV and other blood borne diseases such as hepatitis C, as well as connect users to treatment and other important needs such as housing or food assistance."

Perhaps we should encourage them to open an office near Monkey Junction or even in Carolina Beach. And yes, that's controversial, but here's what Donnie Varnell, Special Agent in Charge, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, had to say about such programs. He said, "Statistics show that syringe exchange programs greatly reduce the number of persons contracting HIV and Hepatitis and increase the safety of the officers on the street by reducing the number of them who are exposed to 'dirty' needles. I would also hope that the exchange programs would lead more people to seek treatment and result in fewer persons overdosing. This epidemic of IV drug abuse has reached such dangerous levels that we should consider all options in an attempt to help the communities we serve."

The Council will hear a presentation from Police Chief Chris Spivey at their May 23rd, workshop meeting at 9am at Town Hall.

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