Law enforcement around the Treasure Valley says fentanyl is a growing threat and the need for education and awareness is great.
Governor Brad Little's Operation Esto Perpetua Citizen's Action Group met with Sheriff's Offices, Police Departments, Idaho State Police, and other community members in Weiser on Wednesday.
"From a law enforcement perspective, we are inundated with these calls on overdoses, seizures, interdiction," Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue told the task force at the Weiser Vendome Event Center.
Donahue, who has been outspoken about the dangers of the synthetic opioid for a while, said the time has come to show the public the "evil" and real dangers it brings.
"I've personally had four officers be affected dramatically and go down, if you will, immediately upon having contact, not with the fentanyl itself but actually airborne particles from the fentanyl," Donahue said.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Besides how deadly it is, the rise of how much law enforcement has come across is another concern.
"Last year we had 3,000 pills seized, this quarter alone we've had over 10,000 pills that we seized," said Pocatello Polie Chief Roger Schei.
According to the governor's office, law enforcement reporting shows drugs are primarily transported into Oregon and Idaho from Mexico through California. Also, approximately 96% of drug trafficking organizations investigated identified Mexico as the source country for drugs trafficked into the region.
"What sticks out to me is just how silently this has crept up in communities," said the Chair of the group, former prosecutor and former state representative Luke Malek.
This is the second Citizen's Action Group meeting since Esto Perpetua was formed in March. They previously met with local leaders and the public in Coeur d'Alene earlier this month to hear their experiences with the drug.
"We have to get ahead of this educate people on just how deadly and dangerous and addictive fentanyl is and make sure that people are aware of what's happening in their communities," Malek said.
Law enforcement said it's become a lot more accessible and is being repackaged to look like legitimate prescription medication or other drugs.
Law enforcement around the areas said the staffing shortages and the lack of testing capabilities also have made it difficult for them to fight the problem. They said it could sometimes take weeks for them to get results back on drug seizures, and if it's someone that is passing through it could be difficult to find them again.
There's also the safety aspect for officers that is a concern.
Last April, two Canyon County Sheriff's Office deputies were hospitalized after they were exposed to suspected fentanyl while booking an inmate.
While the deputies were booking an inmate into the Dale Haile Detention Center, they found an unidentified substance on his person during a routine search. After confiscating the substance, both deputies began experiencing symptoms associated with fentanyl exposure.
"It's really important that we find solutions that are safe for our people to be using so we don't have officers that are out here trying to protect their communities and overdosing themselves on this same problem," Creech said.
State leaders and law enforcement say while strict Idaho laws curb some drug dealers from entering the state, there is still work that needs to be done when it comes to training, education, and equipment.
State leaders said Idaho can't arrest their way out of it.
"Law enforcement agencies have got to have the tools that they need and that includes increased laboratory capacity," said a member of the group and Idaho Speaker of the House Scott Bedke (R) of Oakley.
Malek said through this process he hopes to speak more on the behavioral and mental health aspect when it comes to opioids and addiction.
"We have to have the resources in place to make sure that they can transition smoothly away from that opioid addiction," Malek said.
Malek and Bedke said as part of the awareness campaign they want to target schools and work with School Resource Officers to help educate teenagers.
"Don't even experiment with this stuff, is really the big message that people need to take away," Malek said.
The Citizen's Action Group will meet two more times with the public and law enforcement before the Law Enforcement Panel with Esto Perpetua will target goals. Malek said the next meeting will be in Pocatello.
Evil is how Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue describes the drug fentanyl.
He says people need to know how dangerous this drug is because it's widespread in our state and spreading Governor Brad Little's operation.
Esto Perpetua held its second Citizens Action Group in Weezer today.
Law enforcement and leaders around the gem state like Donahue, met to discuss the impacts the opioid is having on our communities.
They also talked about what officers need in order to keep their town safe.
Here's our Tristan Lewis.
It comes to fentanyl and other dangerous narcotics in the Gem state, Idaho law enforcement leaders say they have a pretty good idea of where it's coming.
But, with the rise of these dangerous drugs, state leaders, say arresting, won't be enough to stop the problem.
We are inundated with these calls on overdoses to to name some overdose, seizures, interdiction, Cannon, County, Sheriff, Kieran Donahue, says the time to show Idaho.
The real dangers of fentanyl has come.
I've personally, had four officers be affected, dramatically.
Go down, if you will immediately upon having contact, not with the panel itself, but actually airborne particles from the from the fentanyl.
To other law enforcement officials in the Gem state, sharing their experience about the rising threat Wednesday.
Last year we had 3000 and and right now in this quarter.
Alone, you know it's over 10,000 pills that we've seized.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.
What sticks out to me is just how silently this has crept up and communities.
Luke Malik of Coeur d'alene is the chair of operation as to Perpetua Citizens Action Group.
He is joining other state leaders traveling around Idaho.
To hear about the effects the opioid has on communities, right? We have to get ahead of this, educate people on just how deadly and dangerous and addictive fentanyl is, and make sure that people are aware of what's happening in their communities.
Officials say it's become a lot more accessible.
We have had numerous things that are affecting this.
Some of it is sharing the border with Ontario OR.
Have gone in over there.
The drug traffic.
That has come over, whether that's user amounts or trafficking.
Amounts, has been very prevalent in our own community.
State leaders and law enforcement say, while strict Idaho laws curbs many drug dealers from entering the state.
There is still work that needs to be done.
Enforcement agencies have got to have the tools that they need and that includes increased laboratory, capacity.
You know, training.
We have to have outreach.
To, the schools.
Law enforcement, around Payette County, say with limited staff and lack of testing.
It's hard to fight this problem.
It's really important that we find solutions that are safe for our people to be using.
So we don't have officers that are out here.
Trying to protect our communities and getting getting overdosing.
The operation has to perpetuate.
Task Force will meet with local communities around the state.
Two more times, chairman Luke Malik says the next stop is Pocatello reporting in Weezer.
Jason, Lewis, Idaho's, News, channel 7.
Law enforcement said it's become a lot more accessible and is being repackaged to look like legitimate prescription medication or other drugs. Law enforcement around the areas said the staffing shortages and the lack of testing capabilities also have made it difficult for them to fight the problem.Does Idaho have a fentanyl problem? ›
The DHW report concluded that fentanyl was involved in 21% of overdose deaths in Idaho 2020. In 2021, fentanyl-related overdose deaths jumped to 43%.Are police at risk with fentanyl? ›
The DEA's website still includes a warning to police about the risks of brief skin contact or inhalation of airborne powder. Researchers say the risk to police officers from street fentanyl exposure is "extremely low," but warnings like this one can be found on the Drug Enforcement Administration's website.What is the Operation Esto Perpetua in Idaho? ›
“Operation Esto Perpetua” is our new strategy to do more to protect our communities. “Operation Esto Perpetua” brings together law enforcement and communities in new ways, to turn the tide and protect our children.How many people have died from fentanyl in Idaho? ›
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times more potent than morphine. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare recorded 358 overdose deaths in 2022, about 50 percent were due to fentanyl use.How many people died from fentanyl in Lewiston Idaho? ›
The county recorded five opioid-related deaths in 2019, nine in 2020 and eighteen in 2021. Of those 18, six were a result of fentanyl. Hall: “It's been going up for the last couple years. And it's just been in the last couple months that they finally started letting people know that it's a problem.Is fentanyl a first responder risk? ›
The risk of clinically significant exposure to emergency responders is extremely low. Incidental skin absorption is unlikely to cause clinical signs of toxicity. Nitrile gloves provide sufficient protection for routine handling.How many first responders have died from fentanyl exposure? ›
Wherever first responders reported symptoms due to passive exposure to fentanyl, no deaths have been reported. Symptoms of it include slowed respiratory rate, pinpoint pupils, decreased consciousness, and cold or clammy skin.Where does fentanyl come from? ›
The precursor chemicals making up the essential ingredients of fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances is from China. After being shipped to Mexico, the chemicals are produced into fentanyl-containing tablets and enters the United States via our southern border.Why is the Old Idaho Penitentiary famous? ›
Built in 1870, the Old Idaho Penitentiary is one of only four territorial prisons open to the public today. During its 101 years of operation, the site saw escapes, scandals and the effects of Boise's transition from the “wild west” to a mid-20th century capital city.
What Is Idaho Known For? Idaho is best known for its potato production and is famously known as “The Gem State” for its rich source of gems. However, that is not all. Idaho is also home to a wide variety of landscapes and wildlife.What is the Great Seal of Idaho? ›
The seal depicts a miner and a woman representing equality, liberty and justice. The symbols on the seal represent some of Idaho's natural resources: mines, forests, farmland and wildlife.Where is fentanyl a problem in the US? ›
The rate of overdose deaths involving fentanyl was highest in the Northeast. In the Northwest, however, overdose deaths involving methamphetamine were similar to those involving fentanyl. This tracks with long-term trends in the US, where drug use has followed distinct patterns in the West and the East, said Dr.What is the Idaho opioid response? ›
Idaho's Response to the Opioid Crisis (IROC) project is a funding opportunity provided by the State Opioid Response (SOR) Grant awarded to the Division of Behavioral Health (DBH) by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).What is the Idaho opioid lawsuit? ›
Attorney General Raúl Labrador announced another opioid settlement agreement this week that will help the state combat the opioid crisis. Over the next 15 years, Idaho will receive $76 million from chain pharmacies CVS and Walgreens and drug manufacturers Teva and Allergan.Is fentanyl in Montana? ›
Montana has seen a 1,100 percent increase in fatal overdoses linked to fentanyl since 2017.