WYOMING, MICH. - Police are the people who see some of the ugliest parts of the opioid epidemic. They go after the drug dealers and suppliers, and they're often the first ones to respond to overdoses.
"We're getting on a regular basis, two or three times a week, calls where somebody's overdosed," Wyoming Public Safety Director James Carmody said.
In fact the addiction knows no socioeconomic boundaries.
"We're having overdose cases, fatalities of people that are living what you define as maybe an affluent lifestyle and we're seeing people that are of the poorest of community," Carmody said.
The crisis lends itself to another problem for law enforcement.
"The opioid addiction is one problem, the crimes that are committed by the people who need the money for that addiction are another issue," Carmody said.
Carmody said he's seen an uptick in both robberies and retail theft.
"In some cases their addictions are so strong and so powerful that putting in jail is the best thing for them for a short period of time simply to get them away from the drug," Carmody said.
Which is why Carmody isn't surprised that the White House is calling it a public health emergency.
"It's been a long time coming," Carmody said.
The Wyoming Public Safety Director said all of his officers and all fire personnel carry Narcan with them while on the job. Narcan is a nasal spray for emergency treatment of a suspected opioid overdose.
The same medication is also available without a prescription at Walgreens pharmacies in Michigan and 44 other states.
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