Prosecutor warns opiate overdoses are up in Berrien County
Police Reports By Annette Christie The statistics for heroin-based overdose deaths have been relatively static over the years being in the thirty-some deaths per year over the last several years, with a slight downward trend last year. That trend was possibly due to the prevalence of Naloxone (Narcan), the antidote for an overdose used by police officers, medic crews, and many other emergency responders. Berrien County Prosecutor Mike Sepic says that in the last two weeks, however, the prosecutor’s office has received reports of an extraordinary number of overdose deaths and overdose recoveries in such a short period. Though it is not yet confirmed by autopsy reports, death scenes would suggest that these deaths have been throughout the county. In addition, it is reported there have been more than a usual number of treatments at emergency rooms as well. Preliminarily, it appears the spike in these occurrences may be related to mixtures containing a higher than usual percentage of fentanyl, an opiate now used by drug dealers because the synthetic version of this product is less expensive than heroin itself. If an individual is aware of a relative or a friend who uses opiates, warnings should be given that the source of their supply could be part of this recent deadly mixture. More importantly, substance abuse treatment should be encouraged. Information is available at the Berrien County Health Department at (269) 927-5668 or Carol’s Hope at (269) 556-1526. Delivery of these controlled substances is a crime and delivery of such a substance that results in a death is punishable by life in prison or any term of years. Local authorities are investigating these incidents and prosecution decisions will be made as the investigations conclude. If an individual has any information relating to recent incidents described above, please contact the local law enforcement agency, Crime Stoppers at (574) 288-STOP or 800-342-STOP, or the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department tip line at http://www.bcsheriff.org/FormCenter/Sheriffs-Department-7/Tip-Form-48. Watervliet Charter Township Police activity In the month of March, Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputies Puffer and Goff had the following statistics for their patrol in Watervliet Charter Township: There were four felony arrests and seven misdemeanor arrests. Of the 31 traffic stops made, there were 20 traffic citations given. The pair provided assists to other agencies 13 times and performed 42 building and property checks. For the month they had 22 original complaints and 12 follow-ups. Puffer reports that the Berrien County Sheriff Reserves patrolled over the three weekends of March and did 44 property and building checks. They also assisted other agencies on area calls multiple times. Pride Care Watervliet Township responses Ambulance provider Pride Care responded to 23 calls in the month of March in Watervliet Charter Township with an average response time of 6:53. Of those calls, five were priority one and 18 were priority two. Coloma Township Police investigates razor blade in gas pumps incident The Coloma Township Police Department Facebook page provided an announcement that the department was investigating an incident at a local gas station. The local gas station, which was not named, reported that a razor blade fell from a gas pump handle when a patron picked it up to pump gas on Monday, April 15. The notice urged residents to be vigilant and inspect handles prior to use. No further information was available at press time.