Middletown officials: 2 reasons heroin deaths, overdose runs dropping

The number of overdose runs and heroin deaths have dropped in Middletown during the past few months, something officials credit to the city’s Heroin Response Team and the arrest of major drug dealers.

Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw, Fire Chief Paul Lolli and Police Sgt. Earl Nelson shared the latest statistics with about 50 community members Thursday night during an event hosted by the Middletown Ministerial Alliance.

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Lolli said the city saw 139 overdose medic runs where Narcan was administered in April, higher than the 120 average runs per month in 2016. But since this spring, the number has dropped every month — from 68 in August to 31 in September to 23 so far this month.

That also has translated into fewer overdose deaths, Lolli said. The city was averaging seven overdose deaths a month, but saw four in July and one in September.

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“Something is working, a lot of things are working,” Lolli told the crowd.

He credited the city’s Heroin Response Team that consists of a police officer, paramedic and social worker. The team visits those who overdose and tries to encourage them to seek treatment.

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Lolli also pointed to the city’s police department, which he said has arrested major drug dealers.

Muterspaw said the city has two units that work exclusively to arrest drug dealers; has added a canine officer, giving the city five; and will soon hire two more police officers.

The number of felony arrests of drug dealers has doubled, Muterspaw said.

However, those arrests may be one reason for the number of drug-related shootings in the city, Nelson said.

He said once “high-end” drug dealers are behind bars, lower ranking dealers are “fighting to get to the top.” That sometimes leads to gun violence, he said.

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Nelson also pointed out that the majority of drug dealers don’t live in the city. Instead, they’re in town for several hours, make their deals, and then they’re gone. Most of the deals are completed in “trap houses,” places that are owned or rented by drug users, he said.

Muterspaw said he’s frequently asked why he doesn’t jail those who overdose. He believes “jail is not a place for addicts” and that only drains the city’s resources.

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