CHICO — As opioids claim more and more lives in the northern state and nation, the Chico Police Department honored its own Thursday for saving the life of a 29-year-old who overdose.
Chico Police Chief Madden presented a Life Saving Medal Award to Chico Police Department officer Logan Zimmerman during a news conference Thursday in which the police chief spoke about the opioid crisis in Chico and Butte Counties. Madden also showed body camera footage showing how Zimmerman saved the man’s life.
Michael O’Brien, former chief of the Chico Police Department and current Butte County Inter-Agency Narcotics Task Force Commander, gave a presentation on what the opioid crisis looks like in the United States, California, and Butte County.
According to O’Brien, there were 75 overdose deaths in Butte County in 2020. This is compared to 56 overdose deaths in Butte County in 2019. This represents a 34% increase in overdose deaths in the county over the 12-month period.
From January 2021 to August 25, 2021, there were 20 fentanyl-related overdose deaths. O’Brien said that compared this to nine fentanyl-related deaths in 2020.
Madden said officers in Chico began carrying Narcan nasal spray in police cars in 2018. Narcan can reverse the effects of opioid overdose.
O’Brien said there are now large quantities of “pink,” round counterfeits. “This new pain pill, K56, oxycodone,” he said, “seems to be responsible for the high number of deaths and overdoses.”
In addition, O’Brien said he knows there are strips that people can use to test their various drugs and substances. However, he said those strips are not reliable.
“They are not always able to detect fentanyl,” O’Brien said. “You don’t know that what you’re putting in your body is extremely dangerous.”
He said it is important for people to understand what is happening in their community. “I believe everything starts with education,” O’Brien said.
Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said many of the overdoses happening are among young people.
“Teenagers seem to be attracted to pills,” Ramsey said. “They have this misconception that if it’s a pill, it must be a prescription, so that’s okay.”
Ramsey said they are now seeing an increasing amount of counterfeit pills, many of which contain fentanyl. According to Ramsey, fentanyl is a potent opioid, more potent than heroin. They said they came up with a fentanyl advice or warning.
“Selling, possessing, providing, giving away, manufacturing, mixing, converting, producing, obtaining, processing or comparing controlled substances is extremely dangerous and deadly. Engaging in this conduct is a highly dangerous activity and Can be fatal. You can kill someone,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey said any number of illegal drug sellers could be charged with murder as a result of someone’s death.