Hoelzel describes epidemic of overdoses
By Angie Landsverk
Waupaca’s police officers will soon carry Narcan when they are on duty.
Police Chief Brian Hoelzel anticipates the department will begin doing so in August.
He is in the process of obtaining cost estimates for the medication from companies.
Hoelzel is also investigating whether there are any grants available to put toward the cost of purchasing it.
Once the department has Narcan, “first we will do training, and then the officers will start carrying it,” he said.
Hoelzel said the majority of law enforcement agencies are now going to be carrying Narcan.
Narcan, also known as Naloxone, is a medication used to counter the effects of an opioid overdose.
The reason why more departments will have their officers carrying Narcan is not only to help someone who may have overdosed on an opioid but also for the officers and members of the public who come into contact with it, he said.
“With the potency of the drugs out there, we’re seeing a lot of secondhand exposure,” Hoelzel said.
If a bag of an opioid explodes, an officer or citizen coming into contact with it could be affected, he said.
Waupaca’s police department is responding to more overdoses this year.
Last year, there were five overdoses in the city, Hoezel said.
“This year, up until last week (the week of July 3). there have been 14 in the city,” he said.
It was noted those are the known overdoses called into the city’s police department.
“It’s an epidemic. It’s a problem,” Hoelzel said during the commission’s July 11 meeting.
Last month, the Police and Fire Commission voted in favor of the department moving forward with the process to acquire Narcan.
“Do what you need to. Let’s get it going,” Bryon Gyldenvand, the commission’s chairperson, said during the commission’s most recent meeting.
The chief believes Narcan has a shelf life of one to two years.
“One thing we’re looking at,” he said, “is the temperature it has to be stored at.”
As a result, the officers will have to carry it on their person, Hoelzel said.
During last week’s meeting, he also told the commission he submitted an application for a COPS Grant.
If the federal grant is approved, the department will receive $125,000 over three years to go toward the funding of a position, Hoelzel said.
“Then the city would have to fund it fully in year four,” he said.
Hoelzel specified in the application that the funds would be used to hire a replacement patrol officer so a full-time drug officer could be added to the department.
Gyldenvand said with the amount of opioid cases in the city, there is a need for a drug officer.
“I hope to hear back within the next month or two whether we received the grant,” Hoelzel said.