Regina police urge public to be aware as number of overdoses climbs

Overdoses in Regina have claimed four more lives since Tuesday, prompting police to issue a warning to the public.

In a release, the Regina Police Service said that since Nov. 10, police have responded to five overdoes, four resulting in death.

Read more: Saskatchewan mothers flag gaps in province’s addictions, overdose response

“The Regina Police Service is again urging the public to be aware of the issue of illegal drugs in our community, as the number of overdoses in our city climbs,” RPS said in a press release Friday.

Since the beginning of the year, police have been tracking what they call a growing number of overdoses, both fatal and non-fatal, that are reported.

Police say that since January, that number has grown to 935 overdoses, although it could be higher because some overdoses don’t involve calls for EMS or other emergency services.

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“The Regina Police Service continues its diligent approach to drug trafficking investigations and has reported a number of arrests, drugs seized and persons charged,” the release said.

“We continue to combine our efforts with health authorities who tackle the issues of addiction and treatment. An overdose is a medical emergency; it is not a criminal matter.”

Patty Will, the founder of Queen City Patrol, said that with COVID-19, the group has noticed an increase in the number of needles around the city.

“We are finding quite a few more needles lying on the streets and in the alleys than we ever thought. We’ve hit just over 27,000 needles in a year that we found on the streets,” Will said.

Read more: Saskatchewan Health Minister responds to potential record overdose numbers

Queen City Patrol is a community group that removes drug paraphernalia from the streets and hands out warm clothing, soup and coffee to the city’s most vulnerable.

Since the pandemic started, however, Will said the group has had some challenges with its needle patrol van. She said it was not able to run for a few months during the pandemic and had just started up again last week when it got into a collision.

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“A lot of people are having trouble getting clean needles, so they are reusing. The trouble with reusing is if the person using it beforehand had some fentanyl in it and then the new person has fentanyl in their drug as well, that’s a double dose of fentanyl and therefore increasing your chances of overdosing,” Will said.

While there are two locations where people can go to get clean needles, Will said they close early and it’s hard for people who don’t get around.

“If we had more needle drop-off bins, as well a safe injection site, I do believe that would help a lot,” Will said.

Right now, Will added, the group is focusing on handing out warm clothing and is accepting donations. The group also has naloxone kits on hand and trains people on how to use them.

Read more: Saskatchewan families advocate for urgent solutions to overdose crisis

More information on take-home naloxone is also available online through the Saskatchewan government’s website.

RPS is urging the public to be aware of the illegal drugs, saying in an emergency call 9-1-1.

“Know the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act. It protects anyone who is experiencing, or anyone who is present when someone else is experiencing, a drug overdose from charges for possession of a controlled substance when they call 911 for help,” said RPS.

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Police are also urging anyone who may have information about illegal drug use to contact the Regina Police Service at 306-777-6500 or, if you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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