Jamestown Police Chief Timothy Jackson responded with a single word when asked at a recent press conference if there was a common thread running through a wave of gun violence in the city.
In an interview this week, Jackson explained what has been another big year in narcotics seizures by the city’s drug task force. The commodities of these seizures typically include methamphetamine, cocaine and crack.
But it’s fentanyl that worries Jackson.
“Fentanyl is the most problematic drug I would say right now,” Jackson told the Post-Journal. “It’s so powerful and it obviously leads to overdoses too.”
Described by the US Drug Enforcement Administration as a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, task force members have collected fentanyl at much higher rates over the past two years during investigations. .
As a prescription drug, fentanyl is typically used to treat patients with severe pain or to treat patients with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other opioids. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the most recent cases of fentanyl-related harms, overdoses and deaths in the United States are linked to illegally manufactured fentanyl.
According to the CDC, fentanyl is often mixed with heroin or cocaine as a combination product – with or without the knowledge of the user – to increase its euphoric effects.
“It is by no means a new drug,” said Jackson. “It’s just more prevalent for some reason. We can speculate all day how it gets here, but it’s definitely more widespread and it’s more powerful.
This year, the Jamestown Metro Drug Task Force seized 415.6 grams of fentanyl as part of investigations. This does not include anything that can be collected during routine patrols.
In 2021, the task force seized 835.1 grams of fentanyl – representing a significant increase from previous years after collecting 292.1 grams in 2020; 159.2 grams in 2019; 6 grams in 2018; and 7 grams in 2017.
Jackson said there are additional risks when abusing drugs, especially fentanyl.
“You don’t know what you’re getting”, he said. “When someone takes a drug, methamphetamine or heroin, they may not think there is fentanyl in it. It’s so powerful.
Members of the task force also seized the following items this year: 92.8 grams of cocaine; 447.4 grams of crack; 11.4 grams of heroin; 3,288.9 grams of methamphetamine; 907.2 grams of marijuana; 124 suboxone strips; 30 units of LSD; and 4.5 grams of mushrooms/psilocybin.
A major factor in these increases is increased efforts to crack down on the drug trade that has led to overdoses. These efforts have meant using grip strength more often.
“The overdoses we are seeing push us to be more aggressive,” he said. “And, again, the violence that results from this drug trafficking plays a role in it.”
Jackson linked recent crimes involving weapons to the ongoing narcotics trade. He said New York state’s 2019 bail reform law allowed many repeat offenders to bail after arrest to await trial.
“I hate to keep referring to it, but people’s lack of accountability plays a major part in it,” he said. “People don’t go to jail like they used to for offenses like the ones we’re talking about – narcotics and firearms too. They don’t go to jail anymore. Like earlier this year, someone got arrested three times for illegal possession of a firearm, a pistol. This would not have happened in previous years. »
The landmark bail law eliminated pretrial incarceration for those charged with most nonviolent offenses. He has been criticized by police, prosecutors, unions and Republican lawmakers for taking away discretion from judges on bail.
Jackson pointed to the man arrested three times for possession of weapons. He said dealing with repeat offenders takes officers away from other duties.
“Bail reform hasn’t helped our efforts in all of this,” the chief of police.
When it comes to drug use, Jackson thinks education is important.
“I think it’s also important to educate children at a young age and warn them,” he said. “And I’m not saying it’s not done now, but I’m just saying there are so many different factors that make a person choose to do narcotics.”