West Orange police to help addicts test drugs for fentanyl

Posted: Updated:
WEST ORANGE -

West Orange police officers say that they are trying to put a stop to the number of people who are dying of drug overdoses.

The department is the first in the state to offer special strips that can be used to test if drugs are laced with the dangerous substance known as fentanyl.

A box of the free strips is available inside the West Orange Police Headquarters. These strips can test heroin, cocaine or methamphetamines for fentanyl, which can be 25 times stronger than heroin.

New Jersey years ago allowed needle exchange programs in cities like Atlantic City and Newark – to allow IV drug users to have clean and safe needs. At the time, some feared that it would increase the use of these drugs.

West Orange Police Chief James Abbot says that this is not the case. He says that no one is going to start using heroin just because these strips are made available.

“If a test strip saves a life we have succeeded,” says Abbot. “We are not going to arrest our way of out the problem.”

Officials say that the strips can let the user know if the drugs are laced or not – allowing them to hopefully make better decisions.

“The overdoses are double and tripling every year,” Lt. Rich McDonald says.

McDonald says that he has seen the strips work in Pennsylvania and California and brought them to West Orange.

“This is no longer a law enforcement problem. It’s a social issue. It’s a health issue and a public health crisis,” McDonald says.

The strips are being paid for with drug forfeiture funds. Each strip costs the department $1. The department also has a program called Operation Hope for anyone looking to end their drug addiction.

 

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