LACONIA — The number of arrests for drug/narcotic violations in the city has nearly doubled for the first nine months of the year according to Laconia Police Chief Chris Adams.
A police department report submitted to Police Commissioners when they met last Thursday at Laconia City Hall showed that arrests in that category has increased from 80 last year to 151 this year.
Most of the narcotics arrests are for heroin laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opiate which is more potent than morphine.
Adams said that local increase in narcotics arrests mirror the statewide increase, which has been labeled a ''heroin epidemic'' by law enforcement officials and drug treatment professionals.
He said that the number of drug overdoses his department has responded to this year is also up substantially.
''We've responded to 75 to 80 overdoses with eight deaths so far this year. Last year we responded to 50 overdoses and there were 10 deaths,'' said Adams.
He says that the department follows what he calls a balanced enforcement approach when it comes to drug and narcotic violations and doesn't arrest those whose overdoses are reported and tries instead to point them towards treatment for their problems while working hard to arrest those who are selling narcotics.
He noted that recently Laconia Police completed a drug arrest sweep which saw 25 individuals arrested.
''We're dong both,'' says Adams, who says that the lack of treatment facilities in New Hampshire ''is a ''big part of the problem. We're the second worst state in the country when it comes to treatment for drug and alcohol addictions.''
Adams says that the increase in drug and narcotic doesn't mean that there's been a big spike in criminal activity in the city. ''We've had 1,090 physical arrests this year, up from 974 last year, so we're pretty much on par.''
Nearly 60 percent of the increase in physical arrests this year, 71 out of 116, are accounted for by the major increase in drug and narcotic law violations.
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