All across the province, first responders continue to deal with the opioid crisis that is killing people at a significant rate. In November of last year, nearly 50 per cent of our calls for sudden deaths were suspected drug overdoses. Throughout 2018, Delta Police, Delta Fire and paramedics continued to respond to numerous overdoses, and the issue is prevalent enough in younger populations that we felt it was necessary to work with the Delta School District and send a warning home to parents.
Never in my nearly 35 years of policing have I seen anything like this. As Delta’s police chief, I am frustrated that no matter how many resources we pour into drug enforcement, and regardless of the massive drug busts that we make here and across Canada, these deadly drugs are making their way into the community. From teenagers to seniors, we are seeing overdoses in every age group and across all socio-economic categories.
Drugs have changed, so how we tackle the problem has to change. We need to create community resiliency, and enforcement is only a small part of it. No single agency can tackle the problem — we must do it together.
We are blessed to have a strong relationship with Delta Hospital and we are working with the leadership team there to look at ways to increase access to treatment. By offering services to a person in crisis, the hope is that they receive the medical support they need to deal with their addiction and potential underlying causes.
We are also equally lucky to work with the Delta School District on a harm reduction and education strategy. Accepting that there are drugs in our schools is tough, but it helps all service providers understand the risks that our students face. Our school liaison officers and other police officers are delivering a daily message about drug consumption and the associated dangers.
The stark reality is that there are people who will die from consuming street drugs. But we are working as hard as we can, through both enforcement as well as harm reduction and education strategies with multiple stakeholders.
If you recognize a drug problem in yourself or in someone you are close to, please consider seeking help. Opioids are a powerful substance and there are medical treatments to help you. Call Deltassist at 604-946-9526 and they can help determine what services are best for your needs. If it is an emergency, never be afraid to call 911.
Neil Dubord is the chief constable of the Delta Police Department.