20 reported heroin OD deaths this year in Hampshire & Franklin - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

20 reported heroin OD deaths this year in Hampshire & Franklin Counties

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The growing problem of opiate addiction continues in Greenfield. But the police chief says the community is working together to address the issue.

The new Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh says he hasn't gone a week without reporting an opiate overdose since December. There have been at least 23 reported in his community so far.

"The increase in overdoses is drastic," he said at a public safety meeting on Wednesday night.

There have been 20 reported overdose deaths in Hampshire and Franklin counties this year alone.

"I don't think any of us believe we can arrest our way out of a problem, certainly this problem. We are not going to arrest our way out of heroin and opiate overdoses," Haigh said.

He says people are buying heroin at the cost of a pack of cigarettes in the Springfield area and selling it for nearly double in Greenfield. He's also seeing an uptick in rarer forms of opiates such as Fentanyl.

"So we need to do something different. We need to have a positive response from the community and I think we have shown that," he said.

With help from the Opiate Task Force, Chief Haigh says Greenfield is working to be ahead of the problem. By using social media, they are creating a better relationship with residents.

"People are calling us now. They know it's out there. We're letting them know that we are here. So by us being here and saying, 'yea give us a call,' maybe we are getting a few more calls. And that's a good thing as well," Haigh said.

With drug use on the rise, crime is increasing. There have been a number of car and home break-ins reported this year.

"A majority of it is drug related. Whether it's a quick money grab, looking for pills that might be in a car, or in a house. Those are things that we are seeing for the spike," the chief said.

This Saturday, Greenfield police will host a drug take-back day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"Anything you don't need, get rid of it. There is no reason to have it around," Haigh said.

A number of other communities in the state will be hosting drug take-backs on Saturday as well. Longmeadow and Springfield will also hold the events from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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