Virginia Beach Police get device to prevent fatal heroin overdoses

Posted at 5:48 PM, Feb 29, 2016

Virginia Beach, Va. - Too many people are dying because of heroin.

That's why the Virginia Beach Police Department is taking action.

Starting last week officers on the streets will have a device that could help someone stay alive in the event that they were overdosing from heroin.

Virginia Beach Police Sgt. Colin Elliot said, “If we can save one life than it's worth it.”

The hope of saving more lives is why Virginia Beach Police got 50 of new devices which have Naloxone inside, a medicine that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Police say there's a need.

Virginia Beach Police Captain Theresa Orr said, “absolutely because of the rising number of people that are struggling with it and that have died."

More families in Virginia are feeling the effects of heroin addiction.

In Virginia Beach alone police say in 2015 they had 135 heroin overdoses, of those, 35 people died and so far in 2016 36 people have overdosed and 6 of them were fatal.

Police say those statistics are just the calls that involved police. It does not include cases where police are not involved.

“There's an epidemic in this country and we're trying to do our part to save lives to make a difference. I think this will help and will make a difference," said Sgt. Elliot.

Leaders with police department admit that having the devices will be a new challenge for officers.

“It does take us out of our role because typically when we respond to the scene where there are felony narcotics we are in the law-enforcement role but officers are very cognizant of the fact that our primary mission is to preserve life," said Captain Orr.

Virginia Beach Police said they are one of the only police agencies in the state training all of their officers.

They got 50 devices now and hope to get 100 more in the next few weeks.

Virginia Beach Police say they got grant money from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to help cover the cost for the devices. They say they paid $2,300 dollars for the first 50 devices.

Governor McAuliffe created a Task Force in September of 2014 and the Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera joined the Task Force in November of 2014.

“He knows the problem, he sees the problem out there, he sees people dying and he wants to do something to try to combat that in our city,” said Sgt. Elliot.