WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Wichita Police Department, Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, and other local partners are hosting a town hall to talk about the fentanyl crisis in Wichita.
More than a hundred people filled the Sedgwick County Extension Center Wednesday night for the event.
There was a question and answer period with speakers from the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, Healthcore, Safe Streets ICT, YEEP and Mirror Co.
The Sedgwick County Forensic Science Center says the number of fentanyl cases has grown exponentially.
“In 2018, we actually only had three cases that contained fentanyl,” said Lana Goodson with the center. “Our final numbers for 2022 are 698, which proved to give us a 552% increase in fentanyl in two years.”
Sheriff Easter says the main goal of the town hall was to “Educate people, educate parents. My whole thing is educating parents because of what the youth is dealing with right now and loss of youth in our community.”
Wichita Police Chief Joe Sullivan says he has already started talking to Sheriff Easter about how to reach more youth.
“I think we need to be in the grade schools, get to our young people very early on and begin to educate them about the dangers of this,” Sullivan said.
Sheriff Easter has been talking about fentanyl for years but says it’s hard to tell the difference being made.
“We are too soon to really know if it’s had an impact. I would hope it has because we’ve seen a reduction in teens that have overdosed or been poisoned by fentanyl but still too soon to say,” Easter explained.
He is hopeful of the progress.
In April 2022, both WPD and the sheriff’s office started carrying Narcan and have been able to use it.
Chief Sullivan wants to remind people not to be afraid to call 911 if they’re with someone who overdoses.
“We are not looking to prosecute people because they have an illness, and they were present when a friend or family member has an overdose incident. Our focus is going to be saving that life.”
Many of the groups involved in the town hall were there to share resources available to the community.