The Safe Stations Program has been effective fighting the heroin laced with fentanyl problem in Anne Arundel County. But, now they have new concerns. The extremely deadly drug additive, fentanyl, is showing up in other drugs.
The Safe Stations Program allows anyone struggling with opioid addiction to walk into any fire station in the county or Annapolis City and ask for help. It’s been a success and is gaining national attention.
"I’ve started to here, 'Wow, you guys from Anne Arundel are doing this or we're thinking of doing that, it's a really good feeling as chief,” said Anne Arundel County Police Chief Tim Altomare.
The success rate for addiction treatment in general is 10 to 15 percent, but Chief Altomare says the success rate here in the county is more than 50 percent.
Now, the police are not only worried about a fentanyl and heroin mix, they are starting to see it in other drugs like marijuana, but now cocaine laced with fentanyl overdoses are stating to take over the heroin and fentanyl mix.
"The cocaine numbers are starting to become staggering now. It's almost a true shift in the access of this fentanyl situation," said Chief Altomare.
Candace Holtz is in a treatment program and Megan Scatt it a house manager of the program. They have seen the increase in the deadly combination of the fentanyl and cocaine over the past year.
"It’s wiping everybody out. It's destroying our neighborhoods, you know, like it's destroying people, I feel like we're a walking dead," said Holtz.
When safe stations kicked off in 2017, 384 people use the program county wide. The next year 1,206 people did, and now the numbers keep going up.
"You got to think out of the box to try to solve them when you look at causation, root cause being drugs you've got to think about things other than handcuffs that might help," said Chief Altomare.
The program is showing results, but Chief Altomare is still going to keep fighting .
"We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves or too proud of ourselves because we have a lot of work to do," said Chief Altamore.
It's more work to make his county a better place to live.