Victoria police officers execute a search warrant on a suspected fentanyl dealer’s residence in part 4 of VicPD’s Fighting Fentanyl series, Executing the Warrant. YouTube

VICPD COLUMN: Fentanyl series shows behind-the-scenes fight

Video series offers glimpse into enforcement efforts relating to deadly drug

Our Fighting Fentanyl web series – available at vicpd.ca/fightingfentanyl, on the VicPD YouTube channel and on our Instagram account – takes viewers behind the scenes of one pillar of the efforts we are undertaking to fight fentanyl: targeting those who deal in this deadly drug.

There were over 900 overdose deaths in B.C. in 2016 and this year, we’ve already reached a grim milestone. The BC Coroners Service announced recently the province has already nearly reached last year’s total.

Fentanyl dealers target the vulnerable: especially those who suffer from addiction. The result is deaths and suffering at unprecedented levels. As an agency specifically tasked with enforcement, it is our duty to do everything we can.

A substance so potent that only two milligrams can cause a fatal overdose, fentanyl not only threatens those who seek it out. We’ve found unscrupulous drug dealers have mixed fentanyl with other drugs, then sold the deadly concoction to unsuspecting customers. We’ve also seized drugs which appear to have been carelessly contaminated with fentanyl. Getting these drugs off our streets is part of our efforts to save lives. While the Fighting Fentanyl video series focuses on our often unheralded enforcement efforts, enforcement is only one of several approaches we’re using to help save lives.

VicPD is a partner in a series of harm reduction initiatives. We’re part of the team supporting supervised consumption services, and we’re members of the Assertive Community Treatment teams who support those who live with mental illness and are often struggling with addiction.

Our officers were the first in B.C. trained to carry naloxone. And long before it was enshrined in legislation, we practised the principles of the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, which exempts those who call 911 or are present during an overdose from charges related to simple possession. We work with our partners at Island Health and social agencies to support efforts to reduce the harms this health crisis is causing in our community.

Our focus is on saving lives and protecting people at risk. That’s why our enforcement efforts are focused on those who deal these deadly drugs and our harm reduction efforts are focused on helping those most at risk.

Fighting Fentanyl shows viewers the enforcement side of these efforts. Through the seven-episode series, released on Tuesdays and Thursdays and winding up next week, fentanyl expert Staff Sgt. Conor King and myself act as guides as VicPD’s Strike Force, Crime Reduction Unit, the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT), our Analysis and Intelligence Unit, Patrol, K9 and other resources track a known fentanyl dealer through the Quadra Village neighbourhood.

The series takes viewers along on surveillance, though GVERT operations, into our drug-processing areas and intelligence briefings. It’s a unique look into the enforcement work we do, provided through unique access as we work tracking a real fentanyl dealer through a real neighbourhood in our city. The last episode airs on YouTube Sept. 19.

I hope you take the time to watch the series – the short episodes range between one and four minutes in length – to get a glimpse of the enforcement efforts that our officers are taking as we work to help save lives and keep this killer drug from causing more harm.

Const. Matt Rutherford is media liaison for the Victoria Police Department.