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Las Cruces Police Chief Speaks on Fentanyl Crisis

Las Cruces Police Chief Jeremy Story
Las Cruces Police Chief Jeremy Story

Senator Heinrich recently held a virtual press conference on the Fentanyl Epidemic; Las Cruces Chief of Police Jeremy Story spoke on the panel.

Chief Story provided a snapshot of what the epidemic has been like in his jurisdiction.

“Our first fentanyl seizure was in 2018, And those seizure numbers grew rapidly. It wasn't in Las Cruces, and then it was, and then it was everywhere. In 2021, it really intensified and we’ve seen that the past few years. During that same period from 2018 to 2021, we saw a huge increase in crime; an 85% increase in violent crime and a 71% increase in property crime. If you overlay the data for fentanyl seizures, crime increase and homelessness in Las Cruces they overlay perfectly. And although there are many other factors that of course contribute to those things, I truly believe that fentanyl is the biggest factor impacting these things.”

Chief Story says overdoses continue to rise.

“Overdose deaths increase in Doña Ana County year after year, while at the same time the availability of Naloxone and NARCAN has increased. We don't know what that number would be had we not seen the increase and availability go with it, yet we still see more overdose deaths every year.”

Chief story knows it will take various initiatives to properly address the crisis.

“It takes a multifaceted approach to deal with fentanyl. We have to treat the addiction itself, the substance use disorder, as a public health emergency and a public health issue. And the crime resulting from it as a law enforcement and a public safety issue. But we have to do that in cooperation, because if we do it in isolation then we really aren't going to have the change that we’re looking for. “

Chief Story thanked Senator Heinrich for his support

“I want to thank you, Senator, for the $194,000 in this current appropriation for the equipment to detect and analyze fentanyl and other dangerous drugs. I also want to thank you for the $2.7 million previously for public safety equipment and technology that is going to keep Las Cruceans and southern New Mexicans safer for years to come.”

Chief Story acknowledges that this crisis affects everyone

“This affects everybody, fentanyl does not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, or gender or socioeconomic class, it affects everybody. And when people say ‘we’ll it couldn't happen to me or my family,’ unfortunately too many times they’re wrong, and it does.”

Shantar Baxter Clinton is the hourly News Reporter for KSFR. He’s earned an Associates of the Arts from Bard College at Simons Rock and a Bachelors in journalism with a minor in anthropology from the University of Maine.