New Ocala police program to curb the city’s opioid epidemic

By Sarah Panko, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 06, 2018, 8:30 PM EST

Ocala Police started a new program Tuesday called the Heroin/Opioid Amnesty Program.

  • Ocala police starts Heroin/Opioid Amnesty Program
  • Anyone addicted to drugs can ask for help
  • Officers take addicts to mental health/substance abuse provider

Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham said during a news conference that last year, the city had 78 opioid overdose cases and 16 deaths.

A little over a month into 2018, there have already been 22 overdoses and 7 deaths.

Graham said arrests alone won't solve the problem.

"We took 95 people to jail for trafficking in heroin, and our numbers are worse this year than they were last year in overdoses and deaths," Graham said.

He said with the new program, anyone who is addicted to any drug can call or come into the police department and ask for help.

Officers will then take them to The Centers, a mental health and substance abuse provider.

"If you show up, you’re not going to get arrested. If you bring us drugs, we’ll take them, destroy them. Paraphernalia – we'll destroy that,” Graham said. “You're not going to be arrested, you're not going to be charged with it, and you’re going to be given help."

Last year, The Centers gave the Ocala Police Department units of Narcan.  

Authorities said they've already saved four lives with the overdose reversal medication.

Ocala Police said it is also working to charge dealers with homicide in overdose deaths.