Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Heroin Use among Topics Discussed at Town Meeting Parks, Building Codes, Stormwater Addressed

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Heroin Use among Topics Discussed at Town Meeting Parks, Building Codes, Stormwater Addressed

Article excerpt

When Bethel Park held its first town hall meeting last week, the topics discussed included parks, stormwater, building codes - and heroin.

"Heroin, which was once an inner city, urban problem is now becoming more of a suburban problem," Bethel Park police Chief Timothy O'Connor told the estimated 30 people who came to the meeting.

"We here in Bethel Park are not immune," he said.

In 2016, Bethel Park had five overdose deaths from heroin, the chief said, and Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of opioids, was administered 11 times.

So far this year, the municipality has had six overdose deaths from heroin and Narcan has been used 13 times, he said.

The oldest person who overdosed in Bethel Park was in his 60s and the youngest was 20, Chief O'Connor said.

No heroin overdoses or arrests have occurred in the high school, he said.

Resident Bob Follette asked where people have "connections to buy drugs" in Bethel Park.

"The majority of users here probably go somewhere else" to buy drugs, Chief O'Connor said, and then use them in their homes. Many of the drugs come from areas closer to Pittsburgh, he said.

Overdoses have become more common because the heroin is being mixed with fentanyl, an opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, the chief said.

Some heroin also is being mixed with carfentanil, a drug from Japan that is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, said Nora Helfrich, director of Tri-Community South EMS.

Due to the toxicity of fentanyl and carfentanil, police in Bethel Park carry gloves and masks and no longer use on-site drug testing kits to avoid being exposed to the potent drugs.

Chief O'Connor said his department's drug task force is working with the state attorney general's office and several heroin arrests have been made this year.

"Our efforts are ongoing," he said.

Also at the town hall meeting, municipal planner Ashley Moore said Bethel Park expects to receive a grant through Allegheny County that will help pay for a water feature - most likely a splash pad - at the Park Avenue recreation area.

A recent online survey about the municipality's parks indicated residents were most interested in having a splash pad or pool at the parks as well as more sports courts and fields. …

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