Take the California Legislature throw in the likes of Prop. 47 and AB109, and you have a situation where local law enforcement is hamstrung in enforcing the laws, especially drug-related laws.
And the prevalence of the deadly drug fentanyl just adds to the frustration of police and district attorneys.
Locally, the police departments of Firebaugh and Dos Palos are dealing with the fentanyl crisis, just like the big city departments.
“This is a stark reminder of the growing opioid crisis that plagues not only big cities but also small communities,” said Firebaugh Police Chief Sal Raygoza.
In one of the most serious incidents involving fentanyl in Firebaugh, Chief Raygoza reported that a male and female couple from out of town stopped at a local gas station. Unbeknownst to those around the couple, they had possibly consumed fentanyl.
“It was a stroke of luck that the alert gas station clerk noticed their deteriorating condition,” said Raygoza. “Realizing the seriousness of the situation, the clerk promptly dialed emergency services, reporting the unconscious couple. Within minutes, local officers arrived at the scene, recognized the possible symptoms of overdose, and armed with Narcan, a medication used to reverse opioid overdoses, and saved them. This could have been fatal had it not been for the quick actions of a vigilant clerk and the efforts of our officers.”
The chief added that the town has witnessed two other cases of possible fentanyl overdoses.
Dos Palos has also seen a rise in fentanyl, according to Police Chief Cliff Battles.
“In the last year and a half, we have administered approximately 15 doses of Narcan for opioid-related overdoses, which we believe to be fentanyl, but we cannot confirm,” said Battles.
His officers also made one arrest for possession of fentanyl for sale, where the suspect had approximately 50 pills in his possession and a handgun. He declined to give the suspect’s name and charges, citing an ongoing investigation.
“So far, we have been very lucky and have not seen any juveniles in possession of fentanyl, nor have any of our officers been injured by coming into contact with fentanyl,” Battles added.
The curse of fentanyl will unfortunately continue, and police officers in Firebaugh and Dos Palos will be stepping up enforcement.
“The incidents have shown me that we need increased awareness and support to tackle this pressing fentanyl issue head-on,” said Chief Raygoza. “As Firebaugh continues to grapple with this issue, it is hoped that these incidents will serve as a catalyst for increased education, prevention, and support services. By raising awareness and fostering a sense of togetherness, this close-knit community can
stand against the dangers of fentanyl and work towards a brighter, safer future for all our residents.”