CRANFORD - The Cranford Police Department is reporting an increase in Nasal Naloxone, or "Narcan" deployments for opioid-based overdoses within the Township of Cranford over the past year.

First Responders deployed Narcan a total of 30 times on 17 victims during 2018. Cranford Police Officers utilized the opioid blocking medication 27 times while the Cranford Fire/EMS administered Narcan on three incidents. Unfortunately, not all of those deployments reversed the overdoses and Cranford experienced three opioid overdose deaths in 2018. "Any loss of life in the Township of Cranford is tragic, and especially the loss of life due to the national opioid crisis we are exposed to," said Chief Greco. "Education, outreach, prevention, and awareness are the only means to effectively reduce the frequency of these incidents. We as a community need to help break down the social stigma associated with opioid addiction.” he said. In 2017, Greco stated that there were 15 Narcan deployments. "To reach a figure nearly double that one year later says two things: our officers are ready, willing, and able to handle overdoses, but the public crisis is outpacing recovery."

Chief Greco stated that his officers have modified their approach to handling substance use disorder from reactive to a combination of reactive and proactive. "We have many partners in the community who handle substance use disorders, which our organization can connect with members of the community with during times of crisis," he said. He stated that his goal is to continue to break down the barriers that sometimes exist between those who need help with substance abuse and law enforcement. "The majority of our officers are trained in crisis intervention techniques and are qualified to be the sympathetic facilitator of help for those who are in need."

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The Cranford Police Department has offered nasal naloxone as a tool for its officers to use during overdose responses since July 1, 2014. Additionally, the Cranford Police Department has placed a permanent "drug takeback" mailbox in the front lobby of its headquarters that residents may use to safely discard prescription pills. According to Chief Greco, the drug takeback mailbox results in pounds of unused prescription pills being safety discarded on a monthly basis. The drug takeback mailbox program does not accept sharps or liquids.

Chief Greco announced that residents can attend a free training at the Cranford Community Center for nasal naloxone on January 17th, 2019 at 6 p.m. The program is called, "Union County Fights Back Against the Opioid Crisis" and offers free training for laypeople to attend. "The goal of this training is much like CPR training for the public - the more people trained, the more chances we all collectively have in saving a life", Chief Greco said. The event is sponsored by the Union County Opioid Task Force and Prevention Links. The first 25 residents who attend this training will also receive a free Narcan kit.

Please refer to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office Official Twitter page for county-wide statistics on Naloxone deployments.