WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — The combined effort of local law enforcement agencies to combat the fentanyl crisis in Wichita Falls is making an early, notable impact.
“We have taken thousands of pills off the street,” Sgt. Charlie Eipper, Wichita Falls Police Department’s Public Information Officer said.
Though the fight is far from over, authorities seem hopeful that the momentum is starting to swing in their favor after a series of early successes.
Among law enforcement’s early victories are the seizures of large quantities of fentanyl and the indictment of a Wichita Falls for a local woman’s murder after he sold her a pill laced with fentanyl and she later died of an overdose.
Sgt. Eipper said with more access to information, the citizens of Wichita Falls now know the real dangers associated with fentanyl.
“First of all, it’s unpredictable how much fentanyl is actually in that pill,” Sgt. Eipper said. “Then, you don’t know the effect of it on your own physiology.”
Officials with the WFPD and Crime Stoppers have adopted the slogan “One Pill Can Kill” to emphasize just how lethal fentanyl can be when purchased illegally. Sgt. Eipper said he’s seen even less than a single pill is fatal.
“We’ve had overdoses from half-pills,” Sgt. Eipper said. “So it’s so unpredictable. So dangerous.”
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, a dose of fentanyl as small as 2 milligrams can potentially be fatal, and with unknown amounts added to prescription drugs and sold on local streets, ingesting an illegally purchased drug is essentially a gamble.
“People are just more aware of the danger,” Sgt. Eipper said. “People that might take it thinking they’re taking a Percocet and now they’re realizing, ‘Oh, I’m not willing to risk that’.”
Authorities are also getting that information in front of students within the Wichita Falls Independent School District, and Sgt. Eipper said it’s making a huge impact.
“Here recently we had another event in the auditorium where about a thousand students were briefed on fentanyl,” Sgt. Eipper said. “I think that’s helping a lot.”
Citizens aren’t the only ones armed with new information. Law enforcement officials across the area have been sharing resources and information, leading to more fentanyl-related arrests.
“The information that’s shared throughout all the agencies and the units with the WFPD has helped with searching for those drugs, looking in those places where pills would be hidden,” Sgt. Eipper said. “We recently made an arrest of 40 pills, and the officer was able to find those inside an area that typically officers might not look.”
Perhaps the biggest difference of all is the introduction of the life-saving counter-drug Narcan. It’s now a standard issue for WFPD officers. Until recently, only emergency responders were equipped with this lifeline.
“I think it makes the officers feel more encouraged and confident out there that they don’t have to show up and have a 16-year-old dying basically from an overdose and you can’t do anything about it,” Sgt. Eipper said. “Now they have that ability.”
Sgt. Eipper said for three local teens on the brink of a fatal fentanyl overdose, WFPD officers with Narcan were the difference between life and death.
“With fentanyl, seconds matter, and you’ve gotta get that stuff administered quickly. People have been saved because our officers showed up in time.”
Although strides have been made, the fight’s not over. Fentanyl is still in Wichita Falls. As is the case with any crime, Sgt. Eipper reminded citizens to say something if they indeed see something.
“You may be the first person who’s gonna share that with us,” Sgt. Eipper said. “Well, call us, let us know, and even if it has been shared several times, all that does is help us.”
If you suspect a pill you’ve come in contact with contains fentanyl, or you know of someone who may be dealing fentanyl or have it in their possession, call Crime Stoppers.
“When it comes down to it, whether you’re possessing it, you’re distributing it, or you’ve overdosed on it, we need to talk to them,” Sgt. Eipper said. “We need to talk to these people. If you’ve been arrested for just possessing it, they’re getting interviewed. We need to find out where it’s coming from.”
Tips submitted to Crime Stoppers may end up earning a little extra cash for the holidays, and, it could help police get this dangerous drug off of the streets of Wichita Falls. Above that, however, it could save one or more lives.
If you have any information about this crime or any other felony crime, call Crime Stoppers twenty-four hours a day at 940-322-9888, or if you are calling long distance, call 1-800-322-9888.
From the time your tip is placed into Crime Stoppers to a possible reward being issued with board approval, you will remain completely anonymous throughout the whole process.
Crime Stoppers, citizens, police, and the media working together to make our community a safer place to live. Together, we can make a difference.
More on Fentanyl in Wichita Falls:
- WFPD provides update on investigation into teen fentanyl-related death
- Fentanyl seized in Wichita Falls traffic stops
- Crime Stoppers, WFISD fighting fentanyl crisis together
- Mother of 19-year-old fentanyl victim speaks out
- Wichita Falls Sober Living to hold third NARCAN training
- NARCAN made more readily available to combat fentanyl overdoses
- 528 fentanyl pills seized in SWAT raid on Kemp Street
- Two arrested for fentanyl-related murder in Wichita Falls
- Wichita County authorities may reopen overdose cases to charge fentanyl dealers
- Warrant arrest leads to large fentanyl seizure