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Kansas school districts, police departments work together to combat fentanyl use

KCK fentanyl program
Posted at 10:19 PM, Mar 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-09 23:19:02-05

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Stopping fentanyl use in schools is one issue which unites lawmakers, police departments and everyone else.

“Now we are seeing a lot of violent crime tied to fentanyl, fentanyl distribution,” said Chief Karl Oakman of the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department.

Kansas Rep. Jake LaTurner told a U.S. House Committee Wednesday about a Lansing High School teenager who died this school year from an fentanyl overdose.

“Over the past few years, Kansas has seen a 73% increase in fentanyl overdoses, one of the highest in the country,” LaTurner said.

School districts are working to form partnerships to fight the drug's use.

“The big thing is we are working with USD 500,” Oakman said.

Oakman says they will partner with the Kansas City, Kansas, School District specifically to combat fentanyl and closely investigating fentanyl overdose.

“We have noticed an increase there,” Oakman said.

"We are partnering with KCKPD because fentanyl issues exceed our capabilities and resources," according to a school district spokesperson.

The chief says their work in the school district is one part of their crime reduction plan.

“Just the way we’ve aggressively attacked it in 2022, we’ve already seen some of our violent crime numbers go down,” he said.

In February, Lawrence police, FBI agents and school officials talked about fentanyl use to more than 3,000 students and community members at school events and assemblies.

In 2020, Lawrence police said 20% of its fatal overdoses were due to fentanyl, but the percentage of deaths blamed on fentanyl overdoses soared to 94.1% of fatal overdoses in 2021.

In 2022, the number of fatal overdoses blamed on fentanyl dropped to 85.7 percent.

Lawrence police believe the number dipped because of continued fentanyl education.

“Prevention starts in the home and it continues in the school, but it takes vigilance, not only from us, but from you, too,” said Corp. Amaury Collado, a Lawrence Police Department School Resource Officer.