Police work to stop opioid crisis in Ottumwa

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 8:35 PM CDT
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - Opioids are painkillers your doctor can prescribe to help you find relief. While they are effective in pain management, health experts say they can also become addictive.

The Center for Disease Control says opioids have caused 70% of drug overdose deaths in 2019. Southeast Iowa is not immune to the growing problem. Lieutenant Bell with the Ottumwa Police Department says opioids have been a problem in Ottumwa. “Problems that unfortunately I hoped we didn’t have to address, but now we’re having it.”

Bell says the last two years his officers have had to administer Narcan to people who have overdosed. Narcan is a drug that reverses an overdose. He also says out of 10 deployments of the Narcan only eight people have been saved. “Like we’ve had some cases where people are turning blue, they are unresponsive, we’ve deployed that, and they didn’t even end up going to the hospital.”

Lives are saved, but for the police, it leaves them with not much to go on when trying to determine where the person got the drugs in the first place. “Because they ingested it, and we can’t charge them with that because we don’t have physical possession of the drug.”

Police have to find another way to track down the supplier. They get a search warrant to gather information off of cell phones. Bell says, “Like phone analysis, you know like Facebook search warrants, a lot of bad guys communicate over those platforms.”

Bell did not say how many arrests they have made by investigating through warrants. However, there is another way the police are trying to combat this epidemic; with the drug take-back box. Where you can drop off the prescription medication you no longer need. It is a simple way to get rid of unused medications with some peace of mind.

You can find the Ottumwa drug take-back box in the lobby at the Ottumwa Police Department.

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