On Tuesday, March 7, sheriffs from across North Carolina attended a news conference and an NC Senate committee hearing in Raleigh regarding Senate Bill 18 – “Fentanyl Drug Offenses and Related Changes,” and they advocated giving strong support to the bill and making it a high priority.

The bill provides new methods for law enforcement to combat fentanyl, such as establishing a new crime of “death by distribution for delivery of controlled substances,” increasing the punishments for related offenses and increasing fines for fentanyl trafficking.

The problem has been a huge one in Guilford County – especially in the High Point area – and county officials are currently addressing the epidemic in a variety of ways using money from a lawsuit brought by state and local governments across the country against the drug makers and distributers.

The Sheriff’s Association also sent out a press release on Wednesday, March 8  supporting the legislation.

“Fentanyl is a highly addictive opioid and has increasingly become deadly for our citizens and law enforcement officers in North Carolina and across the country. Fentanyl is lethal in very small doses,” it reads. “In fact, just two milligrams are considered a potentially lethal dose, which is equivalent to just a few grains of sand. The drug is a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses across the country according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Some law enforcement officers who have encountered Fentanyl in the line of duty have themselves become victims of the potentially deadly effects of the drug. Some, in fact, have received life-saving measures after encountering fentanyl during the normal course of their duties.

Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood, the Association’s president, said the drug is a danger to everyone who comes in contact with it.

“Fentanyl is a real, life-threatening risk to the public and law enforcement officers.” Blackwood said. “This legislation is a crucial step in the fight against this dangerous and deadly drug.”

The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association was created a century and one year ago to serve as the statewide voice to “protect, promote, preserve, and enhance the Office of Sheriff in North Carolina through education, training, and legislative initiatives that increase public safety and protect the rights of the citizens of North Carolina.”