Fresno police will soon issue to officers an antidote that can prevent deaths from an opioid overdose.
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Responding to the nationwide opioid crisis, Chief Jerry Dyer outlined plans for the use of Narcan devices during his monthly Crime View session with news media this week.
During the session, the chief also noted a disturbing trend in gun thefts involving not only commercial firearms dealers but also private gun owners, and reported that violent crime and auto thefts in the city continue to drop.
The department’s plan to confront the local aspect of the opioid crisis comes after the federal government declared that abuse of drugs – from illegal opioids such as heroin and Fentanyl to prescription drugs – claims the lives of 90 Americans a day and costs the nation $79 billion a year.
By issuing Narcan to Fresno officers, the department will join the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office office in having the antidote to opioid overdoses available for officers on the streets of Fresno. Narcan works by blocking the effects of an opioid long enough to allow the body to recover.
Initially the antidote would be issued to corporals, traffic officers and Special Response Team officers. A federal grant will help pay for the devices. Still to be determined: whether the antidote would be administered through an injection or nasal method. It will be in use by mid-January.
Speaking about the gun theft trend, Dyer noted that burglars made off with firearms secured in safes at homes in two recent incidents.
In the 300 block of El Paso Avenue, thieves took off with 13 guns in the safe after making use of a dolly also found at the house. In the 1400 block of West Cambridge Avenue, nine rifles and five handguns were stolen from a house in a similar heist. Police also arrested three people in a burglary from a house in the 700 block of East Browning Avenue.
Coming in the aftermath of a 50-gun theft from PRI firearms in southeast Fresno in October, that means too many guns in the hands of criminals, Dyer noted. He said thefts might be prevented if the safes were secured to the floor of a building.
Dyer said violent crime is down 9.9 percent for the year in the city and has dropped 10.7 percent in the past 28 days, although there have been 48 homicides in Fresno this year, up from 34 at this time in 2016, a 41 percent increase.
Meanwhile, the drop in auto thefts in the city continues and figures show a 16 percent drop from 2016. Hondas built before 2000 continue as the most stolen vehicle.