Sheriff: County reduced overdose deaths by 50 percent

Published 2:27 pm Friday, July 27, 2018

A study released by the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy shows that overdose deaths have risen by 11.5 percent in 2017 — which is a 40 percent increase over the past five years. The drug and opioid epidemic is an ongoing source of news and turmoil in Kentucky as well as the country.

In Bell County, a total of eight people died due to an overdose. That number doesn’t include those who may have been saved by Narcan following an overdose.

“I think if you look deeper into that study, Bell County was the only county in the state of Kentucky that reduced it more than 50 percent in their jurisdiction per capita,” said Bell County Sheriff Mitch Williams.

While deaths due to prescription drugs and heroin have declined, other drugs have now taken their place — such as synthetic opioids like Fentanyl. Methamphetamine has also been on the rise again.

“The things that we are doing differently, is that all our agencies are working together on their drug investigations…we’re putting a whole lot of resources into it from the sheriff’s office,” said Williams.

The sheriff also stated they are part of the Appalachian Narcotics Investigation Unit, and they do a great deal of street-level arrests.

“Our drug investigations are extending well beyond Bell County, he said. “Our investigations will cross the state and across the United States. We’ve been real successful at making drug arrests in other states.”

Williams attributes the decreases in Bell County to extensive investigations and working hand-in-hand with other agencies. Along with the efforts from the police, the community can also do their part in combating the drug crisis.

“Report the activities that you see,” said Williams. “A lot of the time, it’s not necessarily that they are dealing drugs. A lot of the time they are gathering to do the drugs.”

Being aware of what is going on and reporting it is a key component, according to Williams.

The sheriff stated that local organizations that specialize in treatment have been a major help in spearheading change in the community.