BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — While both KCSO and BPD say Meth is currently the number one drug in Kern County, they both say Fentanyl is on the rise and that law enforcement continues to do everything they can to protect themselves.
“Just a few in the powder form, a few grains of salt worth can be actually lethal to a human, in the form of a powder for fentanyl,” said Rick McPheeters Chief of Emergency Medical at Kern Medical.
McPheeters said working in the emergency department he’s seen a lot of overdoses over the years, and while many drugs are to blame, one continues to be a growing concern. Fentanyl is more dangerous because small amounts can be deadly.
“In the last few years, although heroine has always been a drug of abuse in our community, we’re starting to see more and more fentanyl use and abuse,” said McPheeters. “Most certainly, all of them are bad, but I think with fentanyl, what’s unique about it, is it’s very very potent.”
The Kern County Sheriff’s Office also agrees that the drug is starting to appear more throughout the county.
"Our narcotics investigators all agree that meth seems to be the most prominent drug in Kern County but, Fentanyl is on the rise because it's mixed in with everything,” said Danielle Kerncamp Kern County Sheriff’s Office, PIO.
Sergeant Robert Pair from Bakersfield Police Department also said Meth is still the number one drug in Kern County, there's been an increase in fentanyl seizures.
"We have seen an increase in seizures of fentanyl and fentanyl-related opioids, specifically in 2020 we had 48 seizures, and this year so far in 2021, we had 89 seizures,” said Pair.
While officers and deputies may not know when they are going to encounter narcotics, they wear PPE to stay protected.
“Deputies don’t always know what drug that they’re coming across so they take all of those precautions whenever possible," said. Kerncamp. "Because they can look at a certain drug and identify it just by their eye and think that it’s meth and not know that it might be laced with fentanyl which is where it becomes extremely dangerous.”
Pair said they do whatever they can to protect themselves and the community.
“We take every precaution we can, ultimately you can only do so much and that’s why this line of work is inherently dangerous because you never know what you’re going to encounter,” said Pair.
KCSO said all deputies have NARCAN to protect themselves and the community when encountering narcotics and BPD said officers have NARCAN on a case by case basis.
It’s also important to note that both KCSO and BPD said their departments have not encountered a law enforcement overdose.