In Orange County and Across the Nation, Heroin Use is on the Rise

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control shows heroin use is on the rise across the nation. That’s true in Orange County too.

A recent undercover drug operation by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office netted nearly 700 doses of heroin. Narcotics Investigator Brandon Wilkerson says he wasn’t surprised.

“It’s really not new; it’s becoming an epidemic along with the abuse of prescription medications,” says Wilkerson.

A study released Tuesday by the CDC shows heroin use increased 63 percent from 2002 through 2013. At the same time, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths has quadrupled.

Researchers say the increase in usage affects men and women across a wide range of ages and income levels.

According to the report, heroin is cheaper, stronger and more readily available than in decades past, but what’s driving the demand is the popularity of prescription opiates.

CDC officials say states can address the problem by reducing the availability of opiate pain relievers and increasing access to medical insurance that covers treatment options.

States can also authorize law enforcement and medical personnel to carry naloxone, a drug that temporarily reverses opiate overdose.

Orange County was the first in North Carolina to issue naloxone kits to emergency responders following the passage of the state’s Good Samaritan law in 2013. The drug has already been used to save lives in Carrboro.

Wilkerson says Orange County deputies are training to use the kits as well.

“Starting in February this year, we actually have 15 deputies that have gone through the training,” says Wilkerson. “We’re still working on the naloxone kits and policies to implement that to be able to go out there and use it. We’re looking to get the whole department trained before the end of the year.”

In addition, the Orange County Health Department offers naloxone kits to friends and family members of those at risk of opiate overdose.

Three Candidates Announce Intention To Run For Sheriff

ORANGE COUNTY – Orange County Sheriff, Lindy Pendergrass, will not be running for re-election in 2014 and three candidates have announced their intention to run for the position.

Charles Blackwood, Larry Faucette, and Andy Cagle say they’ll run for the Orange County Sherriff position.

Larry Faucette, 56, a native to Orange County, served with the sheriff’s office for 30 years until retiring in 2009.  His last rank was Captain of Investigation and oversaw the district schools’ resource officers. Faucette says that he wants to keep the people of a developing Orange County safe and maintain the community feeling with which he grew up.

“Well I feel that I want to keep the tradition going of keeping people safe, I want to keep the tradition going as being a sheriff that you are here for the people and I want to give something back to the people;” Faucette said “not that I haven’t given anything already, I want to give that back to Orange County and being part of this community and I want to keep that family feeling, I think that’s what Orange County is all about.”

Andy Cagle, 46, born in Carteret County, North Carolina, has been living in Orange County since 1985.   Cagle owns a local business and used to travel in a music circuit where he says he was able to see different lifestyles and learn to see from a different angle.  Bringing his new perspective, Cagle says that he want to be there for the people of Orange County and reach out a helping hand.

“I want to stand up, to be there to make sure that people’s rights are being protected, make sure this county likes to remain a safe place for the citizens and the visitors that come through this town” Cagle commented.

Charles Blackwood, 53, another native of Orange County, retired as Major of Operations for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department after 32 years of service.  Blackwood worked directly under current Sheriff, Pendergrass, and has experience coordinating the different operations of the Sheriff’s Office. Blackwood spent most of his time working for the Civil Process Unit, where he gained most of his expertise.  Blackwood says that as Sheriff he would challenge the current officers to work at their fullest potential.

“I absolutely have some plans for change; the first thing I really want to key in on, is that the agency is full of well trained individuals who have yet to be challenged to their capabilities, and I want to change the culture of the agency from the inside and I want to see the officers there working to their potential” Blackwood stated “I think they deserve it and I know the county deserves it.”

All three potential candidates are Democrats. The filing period for state midterm elections is February 10-28.

Primary elections take place May 6.