• by Kirk Gaw

Opioid Epidemic: A Moment With WPD Assistant Chief Kulp

It is a subject most in Walkerton do not feel easy to talk about? It is a nationwide problem, and has been for 2 decades. Heroin use has skyrocketed across the land and especially in the upper midwest to the northeast. You hear the stories and read the headlines.

Recently, in LaPorte 8 heroin overdoses took place in 24 hours, November of 2016. In South Bend, Police cannot keep up with the Narcan kits being used now more than ever! Dealers are using a deadly mix of synthetic or prescription opiates combined with heroin, fentanyl, and carfentinal -- which can be used to tranquilize large animals.

Today, we are putting to rest another young life taken by this epidemic in Walkerton. 5 deaths in the Walkerton area since January of 2018. I wanted to get with the Walkerton Police Department to talk about what is happening in the community. Walkerton Assistant Police Chief, Charles Kulp, honored for distinguished service, and with saving lives from overdoses took time from his busy schedule to get with The Walkerton Page.

"The Walkerton Police Department went live with our NARCAN (naloxone) program in mid-2014. We assisted 2 other police agencies and one fire agency start similar programs. We started this program in response to the high number of opioid overdoses and deaths in the surrounding four counties (St. Joseph, LaPorte, Starke, and Marshall). As the Walkerton area extends into all four counties, the Walkerton Police Department would often arrive at accidental opioid medication overdoses first."

"Every Walkerton Officer is training to recognized indicators indicative of opioid overdoses, and the steps needed to properly administer NARCAN. This is in conjunction with CPR/AED used, and recovery. Each patrol car has at least one overdose kit in it. Since mid-2014, the Walkerton Police Department has responded to numerous overdose calls (estimation of 30+)."

Lethal dose of fentanyl shown in conjunction with heroin. It doesn't take much to kill users.

"We have documented 6 confirmed life saves on opioid overdoses, all utilizing our NARCAN drug overdose kits. Last year was one of the worst years, for our area, for overdoses. In 2018, we have already had one local (in town) Walkerton resident die from an opioid overdose. In 2017, after an accidental needle stick suffered by a Walkerton Officer, the Walkerton Police Department increased our training in dealing with needles. We added a new SHARPS container to the evidence area and increased supplies of vacuum tubes (used to empty needles/syringes safely)."

Walkerton Police Department is saving lives.

"As heroin is consistently being laced with fentanyl, making it far more potent and much harder to reverse, we have added additional NARCAN doses to each overdose kit. We have also increased the amount of “stand by” drug kits kept on hand at the police department. In addition to local efforts (stops, investigations, arrests), the Walkerton Police Department has been working in conjunction with the St. Joseph County Metro D.I.U. (drug investigation unit) to combat and target local heroin dealers in efforts to reduce drug trafficking in our town. We have also been working with the Indiana State Police, and area Police Departments in the same effort."

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