The Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC) Police Department announced Wednesday new efforts to protect officers responding to drug busts amid rising state and city wide trends of overdose deaths, reports the Charlotte Observer.

One drug, fentanyl, has CMPD concerned due to its lethality and its increasing popularity. When laced with heroin, cocaine and sometimes marijuana, CMPD said it creates a powerful high that is 50 percent more addictive. When contacted in the skin, it can cause heart problems, respiratory issues and can eventually lead to death.

CMPD said there have been 62 overdose deaths since January in Mecklenburg County. Toxicology reports have confirmed 12 cases related to fentanyl.

Sgt. Katherine Scheimreif, who works with Crime Scene Investigations, said she has trained 200 officers to properly deal with these cases, and said her department is actively trying to prepare officers.

“We’ve gotten to the point now where we can’t take chances,” Scheimreif said. If an officer makes a traffic stop and there may be crack cocaine, they’ve been instructed to hold the scene until we can collect it.”

CMPD demonstrated that officers will wear protective suits with masks and double gloves as precautionary measures whenever they arrive at a potential drug scene.

Scheimreif said this training and caution is essential in order to lighten the load off of her department. If more officers are trained, she said they’ll able to properly handle the situation themselves, which will expedite the crime scene. Because of that, she said the training will continue.

 

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