MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — As 2022 comes to an end, it’s been another deadly year for drug overdoses in some parts of Alabama.
So far this year, Baldwin County has seen 66 overdose deaths, two-thirds of which were fentanyl-related.
“That’s created a real issue for us with regards to the number of overdose deaths that we have to respond to,” Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office Captain Andre Reid said.
Reid says there are still 25 cases awaiting official autopsy and toxicology reports, which could put the county over its number last year of 74 deaths.
Police in Dothan are also seeing an uptick due to fentanyl.
“That is one of the most powerful drugs on the street right now. The smallest amount can cause the largest damage,” Dothan Police Lt. Ronald Hall said.
Hall says while the Department does not have statistics right now, responding to drug overdoses has been a big issue. He says for the last three years or so, all officers have been equipped with NARCAN to respond to these situations.
“It’s been very instrumental to everyone in the department because the increase in especially fentanyl. The way it’s been over the last several months or year — you’re seeing a lot more overdose cases on the street. You’re seeing a lot more unresponsive individuals upon arrival.”
Reid thinks harsher punishment for drug dealers would help the problem.
“We can go out. We can saturate areas. We can send investigators out to every death investigation. We can actually make arrests on it. But if we aren’t actually punishing them and following through on the prosecution side then we are going to see an increase,” Reid said.
One state lawmaker has proposed a bill for next legislative session to create mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for those caught trafficking fentanyl. That will come up in March.