Falmouth officer: Opioid crisis doesn’t play favorites

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FALMOUTH — Police Department Lt. John Kilbride says the opioid crisis is a reality in Falmouth, just as it is in nearly every other community across the country.

Kilbride will give a talk on the issue March 6 at Falmouth Memorial Library, where he will discuss the latest information on the opioid crisis and its local, regional and national impacts.

For those who don’t think Falmouth is affected, Kilbride said this week that police in town are responding to an increasing number of overdoses, some of which end in death. In fact, he said, just such an incident occurred as recently as Feb. 16.

That’s part of the reason Kilbride believes it was important to comply with a request from the library to talk about the issue.

He said keys to meeting the crisis head-on include educational outreach, parents talking with their children about the risks, and people taking more control over their own health care, particularly when it comes to filling prescriptions for pain management.

Kilbride said it’s essential for community organizations like the library and the Police Department to hold events like his upcoming talk.

Such occasions, he said, open the lines of communication and “allow two-way dialogue. Law enforcement is always looking to hear concerns from the public. This (epidemic) will take everyone to control.”

Like most police departments in the state and around the country, Kilbride said Falmouth officers now carry Narcan, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

They are also taking new precautions when handling drug busts because of the threat of exposure to Fentanyl, a powerful and potentially deadly drug being used to cut heroin.

In December a special legislative task force released a report calling for a variety of actions in response to the opioid crisis in Maine.

The report said the state “needs to expand access to treatment and prevention programs and do more to stop powerful opioid drugs from being diverted from legitimate uses,” according to a story published in mid-December by the Portland Press Herald.

The report also said the state “must educate youths (about) the dangers of opioids and increase the number of drug courts if it hopes to stem the opioid addiction crisis that is killing a person a day in the state,” the Press Herald reported.

The task force was created about a year ago after Maine Attorney General Janet Mills announced that 376 people had died from drug overdoses in 2016, which represented a significant increase over previous years.

In announcing the task force’s recommendations, Rep. Jay McCreight, D-Harpswell, who was the House chair of the group, said immediate action is required.

“Every day we hesitate literally means the death of another Mainer,” McCreight said. “From infants born drug-affected to jail cells filled with our neighbors in need of treatment, the statewide epidemic requires that we take action.”

He also said that it’s not just individuals who are being impacted.

“Every aspect of Maine’s economy, community safety and family stability will continue to suffer if we do not make progress on increasing prevention efforts, expanding access to effective, affordable treatment (and) increasing access to programs that support people’s long-term recovery,” McCreight said.

While the task force calls on the Legislature to pass several pending bills, including one that would expand treatment and counseling for inmates and another that would allow more flexibility for how money seized in drug cases is used, Mills noted that it’s up to “every community … to come together and address this problem and take care of their own.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Police Lt. John Kilbride said Falmouth is not immune to the opioid crisis. His department seized these packets of heroin and Fentanyl, along with a loaded firearm, during an arrest on Gray Road several months ago.