Heroin Overdoses Raise Concern Among Mashpee Town Officials
By: Geoff Spillane
The scourge of a growing Capewide heroin problem has reached Mashpee Commons, the de facto commerce and tourist center of town.
Since August 1, three non-fatal heroin overdoses, in two separate incidents, have been reported at the popular retail and residential complex. The recent events have caused concern among town leaders and public safety officials that the overdoses are a troubling sign that addicts are emerging from out-of-the-way places and into more visible, public places in Mashpee.
Last Sunday, on a beautiful August afternoon when families were strolling through the Commons, Mashpee Fire and Police Departments responded to the parking lot outside of The Lanes Bowl & Bistro on Greene Street for a report of an intoxicated man. Once located, the man directed emergency personnel to check on a friend in a car in the parking lot who was also suffering from symptoms of a drug overdose. According to police reports, three hypodermic needles and a substance that tested positive for heroin were found in the vehicle. On August 1, a man collapsed outside of Starbucks on Market Street after injecting heroin. Once again, hypodermic needles were found in and around his car in the Commons parking lot.
None of the victims were Mashpee residents, and a criminal summons will be issued to all three men.
While public safety officials would not discuss the medical treatment provided to the three men, a source familiar with the incidents confirmed that all three were revived by Narcan, a powerful drug that is used to counter the effects of opiate overdoses, by counteracting the life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system that typically results from heroin or morphine overdoses.
We may have to think about doing that at some point. It’s well worth it if we can save lives.
Police Chief Rodney Collins
Mashpee Fire Chief George W. Baker Jr. said that to date in 2013, Narcan has been administered 25 times in Mashpee to revive overdose victims. Narcan use figures for 2012 were not available as of press time. Narcan is carried on all of the town’s ambulances, but not in police cruisers. “We may have to think about doing that at some point. It’s well worth it if we can save lives,” Mashpee Police Chief Rodney C. Collins said.
Town Officials React
On Wednesday, Mashpee Town Manager Joyce M. Mason convened a meeting with the town’s top public safety officials and its health agent to discuss the two incidents and the increasing drug addiction problems in town. Ms. Mason said that it is particularly disturbing that these incidents occurred at Mashpee Commons, and that it is her priority to ensure that the community is safe for residents and visitors alike.
“In both incidents at Mashpee Commons, the subjects were in rough shape when emergency personnel responded. Whether it is heroin, prescription pills, OxyContin, or other drugs, the addiction problems we are seeing are of epidemic proportions. It is a very unfortunate situation that is going to take a far-reaching collective effort to get to the root causes,” Chief Collins said.
Chief Collins, who said that he estimates that approximately 90 percent of criminal activity in Mashpee is related to substance abuse, believes that stronger family structures, more professional drug counseling services, and perhaps a faith-based support network may be needed to help stem the tide of drug addiction in town. “It’s also going to require friends stepping up to the plate, recognizing when problems exist, and getting their friends the help they need,” he said.
While Chief Collins would not disclose details of any new policing efforts that will be initiated to deal with the recent overdoses at Mashpee Commons, he did say that it is fair to assume a strategy will be implemented to address the issues.
A. John Renz, vice president for leasing at Mashpee Commons, said that the recent incidents are not unique to Mashpee Commons. “This is a problem throughout the Cape. We are no different than anywhere else as far as people behaving badly. At this time of year, with so many people here, the chances that we are going to see some bad behavior increases significantly,” he said.