Fentanyl overdoses ‘new normal,’ PPB says
PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - The Portland Police Bureau has had a bike squad since the late ‘90s, and over the years, the team has been used for different purposes.
At the moment, officers said one of their main focuses is a growing drug problem in the community. The number of overdoses they see daily has led patrol officers to carry two doses of Narcan at all times.
“It’s the new normal,” Officer David Baer, with the Central Precinct Bike Squad, said. “We see volumes of fentanyl that are unfathomable four, five years ago. Now, all roads lead to fentanyl and it’s essentially become my full-time job.”
Baer said the team currently has four officers, and “we operate basically as the de facto downtown drug squad.”
Baer said when he pulls out on his bike to hit the streets, he commonly makes arrests with his team by surveying areas downtown. He said that it’s common to see people rapidly deal drugs like fentanyl. At 80¢ to a dollar for a pill, Baer explained that it’s becoming increasingly more affordable and available.
He went as far to say that it has taken over the downtown drug scene.
“I’d say 90% of the drugs I see on a daily basis are fentanyl based.”
Monday afternoon, Baer arrested Edis Centeno, alleging he was found with 3,500 pills of fentanyl. Centeno was charged with distribution and unlawful possession of a controlled substance. He was also charged with trademark counterfeiting, as the pills that have been recently seized on the streets are made to look like pharmaceutical products such as oxycodone.
Centeno was arraigned Tuesday where he pleaded not guilty and was ultimately released because an attorney was not available to represent him. He’ll be under pretrial release service’s supervision, who are tasked with assuring he shows up to his next appearance slated for September 13.
Officer Baer would like to warn the public to stay away from drugs on the street, no matter how confident you are they’re safe.
“99% of them turn up positive for fentanyl,” he said. “Even drugs like cocaine and meth. Don’t trust anything on the street.”
He went on to say his team could use upwards of 20 more people. However, the Bureau’s limited staffing means that’s not something on the table right now.
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