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Wichita Police Changing Records System To Improve Drug Abuse Tracking

Deborah Shaar/KMUW
The 'Tuesday Topic' panel discussion on Tuesday focused on substance abuse.

The Wichita Police Department is in the early stages of changing the way it tracks cases involving drug abuse.

Capt. Dan East of the Wichita Police Department’s Special Investigations Bureau says the department is looking to modify how officers classify cases and look for drug evidence in order to get accurate numbers of substance abuse in the community.

“When the police get called to an overdose, at that point, a lot of times we don’t know what the drug is. We don’t know what they have taken if there’s no one else there," he says.

East was one of four panelists discussing the opioid issue and substance abuse at the Central Library in downtown Wichita Tuesday.

East says methamphetamine abuse is still driving the illegal drug activity locally but cases involving opioid abuse are emerging.

He says people who are addicted to opioids and can’t get pills often turn to heroin because it’s cheaper and more readily available.

“We find it through with people going in forging prescriptions, stealing prescription tablets from doctor’s offices and they are doing it because they need to get their pills, and when they can no longer do that, the very inexpensive alternative is heroin. The problem now is a lot of heroin is laced with fentanyl which is very, very potent and takes a very small amount to kill you,” East says.

The goal is for the department to use more specific data instead of broad classifications on incident reports and records.

Dr. Greg Lakin, physician and Kansas House District 91 representative, Pastor Dave Fulton of Safe Streets Wichita and Jan Chandler with nonprofit Partners for Wichita were also on the panel.

The discussion focused on raising awareness on the current status of illicit drug and alcohol abuse, solutions, treatment options and prevention techniques.

The Tuesday Topics seminars are co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters - Wichita Metro chapter.


Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.


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