By Leslie Acevedo & Perla Brito
LOS ANGELES, CA – Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón has joined with LA Dept. of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer to create a working group to address the fentanyl crisis through prevention, education and enforcement.
DA Gascón said he is “proud to announce that we are leading a multifaceted and collaborative effort to save lives…to support and utilize evidence-based and effective approaches to stopping the toll fentanyl is taking.”
Noting the failure of the “War on Drugs” from decades ago has taught “we cannot incarcerate our way out of a public health issue” is a reason why the approach is necessary, said Gascón, adding the priority is to “[save lives] when addressing substance and illicit drug abuse, as only the living have the opportunity to recover.”
According to the statement, the fentanyl crisis is a communitywide issue and will take commutative effort to address the issue harming neighborhoods.
The Department of Public Health released a report on the number of fentanyl deaths that occurred in Los Angeles County in 2016 compared to 2021, showing the rate of fentanyl overdose deaths increased by 1,208 percent during that time, with 109 fentanyl deaths in 2016, jumping to 1,504 in 2021.
The findings of the report also showed that fentanyl and methamphetamine were the main drug types that led to accidental drug overdose in Los Angeles County.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer said “First, let me offer my deepest condolences and wishes of peace to the many families who have lost a loved one from fentanyl poisoning.”
Ferrer added, “As our data indicates, the tragedies resulting from fentanyl are indiscriminately impacting all populations regardless of age, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. Fentanyl’s reach is unfortunately broad, calling for a similarly broad approach to address the crisis. I am
grateful for this opportunity to work in collaboration with people from many different sectors to address this important public health issue.”
Los Angeles County Office of Education, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Los Angeles School Police Department, the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs Association, the Los Angeles Police Department, the Drug Policy Alliance and school districts throughout the county are working alongside the Los Angeles District Attorney and the Department of Public Health.