Chief Patrick Keefe
32 North Main St.
Andover, MA 01810
For Immediate Release
Thursday, May 15, 2014
Contact: John Guilfoil
Andover Police Discuss Three Tools to Combat Drug Abuse
Prevention, Emergency Medicine, Enforcement…
Department Making Record Number of Heroin Arrests this Year
Andover Police Chief Patrick Keefe understands that drug abuse and addiction is both a public health epidemic and a law enforcement crisis. That’s why the Andover Police Department has deployed several new tools that are designed to potentially save lives, while police continue to vigilantly pursue drug traffickers.
These measures come even as the department ramps up its enforcement of the heroin trade. The number of arrests for possession or intent to distribute heroin or other Class A drugs stands at 35 arrests in 2014, as of May 15, compared to 23 arrests all last year and 26 arrests in all of 2012, putting the Andover Police Department on pace for its largest number of heroin arrests in a single calendar year, in at least a decade.
“We will remain vigilant, seeking out the drug trade wherever it presents itself, but a community cannot simply arrest its way out of a crisis like this,” Chief Keefe said. “Drugs affect families, workplaces, and neighborhoods. The Andover Police Department is committed to the quality of life in our community, and we will continue to take a multifaceted approach, using a variety of tools and programs to combat drugs and their effects on society.”
The latest tool in the police arsenal focuses on preventing drugs from getting into the wrong hands in the first place. The department has placed a MedReturn Drug Collection Unit at the Andover Public Safety Building, next to the Communications Dispatch Center Window.
Citizens may place any unused, unneeded, expired, and/or unwanted prescriptions or over-the-counter medications into the disposal unit, no questions asked. Simply open the mailbox-style
“This is an especially useful tool for families — parents and grandparents can prevent their unused prescriptions from falling into the wrong hands, accidentally or otherwise,” said Andover Police Commander Charles E. Heseltine.
All drugs collected by the MedReturn Unit will be disposed of and destroyed in a secure and ecologically-safe manner by Covanta Energy in Haverhill.
MedReturn is an attempt to prevent instances of drug abuse, but the Andover Police Department also understands that reaction and emergency medicine are two more components that cannot be ignored. That is why the department is partnering with Lowell House and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to host overdose protection training on May 20 at 6 p.m. at the Andover Police Department.
The completely free training session is open to all Andover residents. It focuses on opioid overdose, which health officials say is one of the leading causes of death in Massachusetts, and Governor Deval Patrick declared it a public health crisis in March.
As part of the training, DPH and Andover Police are teaching family members and residents how to administer a medication called nasal naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan. If used properly, Narcan can block the effects of an opioid overdose and save lives. It is also easy to use, is safe, and cannot be abused.
“Police, fire, and EMS might arrive in minutes but a family member is already on-scene when they call in a suspected overdose. Proper use of Narcan has proven lifesaving potential,” said Andover Police Sergeant Christopher Moore., who is involved in the training program. “There is a clear and documented need for these kinds of training programs across the country.”
As for enforcement measures, the Andover Police Department arrested two alleged heroin dealers in January, and has made 33 additional arrests for possession of heroin or other opioids. These numbers, as of May 15, represent more Class A drug arrests than any other full year in the past decade, except for 2009, when there were 51 total arrests. The department is on pace make nearly 75 Class A drug arrests this year, as heroin continues to be a major public health and law enforcement crisis everywhere.