BRUNSWICK/NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The Brunswick County Sheriff announced a new joint task force aimed to fight heroin. The announcement came during a live forum following Casey Roman's in-depth report on heroin in the Cape Fear region.
Called the Heroin Initiative Task Force, the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office, New Hanover County Sheriff's Office and Wilmington Police Department will be joining together and sharing resources and manpower to fight the epidemic.
"We've had over 135,000 bags of heroin confiscated over the past five years, that's just us," explained Sheriff Ed McMahon, with the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office.
"If we don't work together, then ultimately the dealers are going to win," Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram explained. "Our intention is to have dedicated personnel working day in and day out, investigating heroin-related crimes in our region."
The law enforcement officers will be working out of the same offices, sharing equipment and information. While the different agencies have always worked together, this will be on a whole new level.
"We can pull these resources together to effectively be able to track those that are dealing heroin and pushing it on our streets," Sheriff Ingram said.
"We're telling the drug dealers to look over your shoulder because we're coming," McMahon added.
Uniformed officers will also soon be equipped with a drug that can stop an overdose.
"Right now, we've been working with, of course, Brunswick County and Wilmington Police in getting our uniformed officers the Narcan rescue kits," McMahon said. "What we are finding is the uniformed officers are there, they are the first ones on the scene and have a very good chance of coming upon someone who has overdosed."
He said they have trained their officers, have the product, and will be carrying it soon.
A new law is also helping to prevent law enforcement officers from getting stuck with a needle, according to Ingram.
"The recent law change now allows someone, if they are approached by law enforcement, to notify them that they have a needle or syringe in their possession. At that point they can't be charged with the needle or its contents," Ingram explained. "It prevents our officers from being stuck with needles and it can potentially protect lives on the street with innocent people being struck."