ECU Police, local first responders prepared to combat opioid epidemic among young people

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The opioid epidemic continues growing across the country, particularly among young adults, so local law enforcement officers are taking steps to stop it.

ECU reports a reduction in the number of drug-related incidents, but an increase in the severity of the crime, with more felonies and cases involving prescription drugs. In the residence halls alone, 68% of felonies have involved heroin or marijuana. That’s concerning to campus leaders because 18 to 24-year-olds abuse drugs more than any other age group.

To keep the opioid epidemic from escalating on campus, all ECU Police officers are equipped with narcan.

“It’s something that on some level is a threat here in the East and so it’s something that we have to be prepared for because it may only happen once, but to that one individual, it’s very critical to be able to render the aid to them as quickly as possible,” says ECU Police Lieutenant Chris Sutton.

All ECU Police officers get updated training on narcan every year but have only had to use it once. They stay up-to-date with the latest trends by working with other UNC system schools and local first responders.

Greenville Fire-Rescue Lieutenant Jesse Harris says they get an average of 5 overdose calls a week, and they’re worried more of those could start coming from college kids.

“We always have that concern because young folks go off to college, try new things, they’re away from mom and dad so maybe they don’t have that parental influence. Obviously, peer pressure is very strong so folks say ‘it’s fine. It’s safe. I’ve done it,'” Lt. Harris said.

North Carolina’s Good Samaritan Law allows people who witness an overdose to call 9-1-1 without risking any criminal charges.

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