With no heroin arrests meth seen as drug of choice
With the addictive drug heroin at the center of what is considered an opioid epidemic nationally, across Indiana it has wreaked havoc on communities as close as nearby Crawfordsville.
But to the surprise of local officials, heroin has yet to emerge as a scourge of the Greencastle drug scene.
“Our demographics are not a heroin base,” City Council President Adam Cohen said. “We’re unfortunately methamphetamine, and there’s reasons for that.”
While statistics compiled by the Greencastle Police Department report no heroin arrests occurring in the past three years within the city, authorities aren’t so naive as to believe that because no one has been arrested, that means no heroin activity is occurring within their midst.
“There’s not been a physical, custodial arrest for heroin in our community,” Police Chief Tom Sutherlin told the City Council during its January meeting. “I’m definitely not saying it’s not there.”
You don’t have to look far to find it, however.
“In Montgomery County,” Councilman Tyler Wade, who is employed there, noted, “I know opiates are exploding right now, and that’s just up the road from us.”
Among other drugs, however, 2017 alone produced 34 Greencastle arrests for possession of methamphetamine and four arrests for dealing in meth.
Marijuana arrests were actually down in Greencastle last year with 36 persons arrested for possession and three taken into custody in the city for dealing marijuana.
Controlled substances, meanwhile, showed an arrest increase with 25 arrests for possession and four for dealing in the city in 2017.
“Most of the numbers are up,” Chief Sutherlin pointed out. “We’re down in marijuana arrests but I know marijuana’s not going away.”
In fact, he noted that just last week, a traffic stop on Indianapolis Road resulted in an arrest in which 115 grams of marijuana were taken off local streets.
“I mean, it’s there,” the chief added.
Councilman Cohen, meanwhile, called the methamphetamine report statistics “stunning numbers.”
“If you go back to 2015, we had 15 meth arrests. So in two years, we’ve doubled,” Cohen noted, adding that it is worse with controlled substance arrests.
Only five such arrests were made in 2015, with the total jumping to 25 last year, indicating a wider prevalence of use in the community.
“What you don’t see there,” Chief Sutherlin said of the meth numbers, “is people who were charged with possession of paraphernalia. Without looking at every one of the 34 arrests, I guarantee there are probably multiple arrests for possession of syringes, and possession of a syringe is a felony in the state of Indiana now.”
Chief Sutherlin said he was asked by Councilman Wade to provide numbers on how many times city officers have administered Narcan, which is a nasally administered opioid antagonist used to counterpart the effects of narcotics.
“I know we have (used it),” he assured, “but I just don’t have the hard numbers.”
Sutherlin promised to provide those at the February Council session.
The chief also investigated the number of overdoses reported locally.
“I worked with 911 dispatch,” he said, “to try to get those numbers, and dispatch did share with me in 2017 countywide we had 85 reported overdoses.
“Now whether that truly was an overdose or it was someone else having a medical condition, but they thought they had overdosed. Just because it was reported as that doesn’t mean it was an overdose. But there were 85 calls for overdoses countywide in 2017.”
The presence of Cain, the city’s K9 officer who partners with GPD Officer Kyle Lee, “is a good step forward” in the battle against drugs on city streets, Sutherlin assured.
Cain has helped in 35 drug and narcotic-related arrests in his 16 months with GPD.
But adding another drug dog isn’t necessarily the answer to greater arrest results, the chief said.
“At the same time, officers make the arrests and they go to court,” Sutherlin said, “and I’m not knocking anybody at the court system but we’ve got to find a way to get these people treatment or get them harsher punishment. It’s obvious our guys are making arrests and putting them in jail.”
Treatment options are another story, although both the chief and the Council appreciate having the new Groups program in town to help with opioid addictions.
“People have to want to be treated, that’s the big issue with any addiction,” Sutherlin said. “They have to want the help. You and I can talk until we’re blue in the face but if they don’t want the help, they’re not going to get it, whether it’s right there for them for free.”
Councilman Wade noted that the drug issue is “certainly something we need to continue to be vigilant about and continue conversation where we, as a City Council, can continue to assist you and the police department to fight drug crime within the city.”
“It continues to be sort of a very scary time,” Wade added, “not only countrywide but right here in Indiana and the Midwest.”