Sheriff briefs Stanly commissioners on opioid efforts

Photo courtesy of StanlyTV

ALBEMARLE — Stanly County Sheriff Jeff Crisco was the central focus of the Feb. 5 Stanly County Board of Commissioners meeting, with Crisco giving a briefing on the successes and goals of his office.

Since he took office in 2018, Crisco said he’s worked to make education and training a priority while also combating the opioid epidemic and enhancing public safety.

“One of the biggest challenges I faced when I took office was the opioid epidemic,” Crisco said. “From 2017 to 2018, Stanly County saw a 69% increase in overdose deaths. During the months of June, July, August and September in 2017, Stanly County led the state in overdose fatalities.”

A year later, the county saw a 17.7% decrease in overdose fatalities from that peak, and from late 2018 to 2021, the county’s overdose rate decreased by another 29.8%. The county’s overdose mortality rate saw a 1.2% decrease in the same period.

This is significantly better than the state averages over this three-year period, where North Carolina as a whole saw a 50.4% increase in overdoses and a 29.6% increase in overdose mortality rate.

“In 2018 when I made the decision to run for sheriff, I made a promise and a commitment to the citizens of this county that I would combat our drug problem with every resource that was available,” Crisco said. “At the time, our county was and had been leading the state in overdoses per capita. It gives me great pleasure to tell you we no longer lead the state, nor have we led the state in years.”

Crisco added that his office’s narcotics division has seized over 220 pounds of illegally-controlled substances — mainly consisting of heroin, methamphetamine and fentanyl — as well as over 47,000 dosage units of prescription medication and $1.2 million in US currency.

With a total of 432 search warrants and counting, the department has already executed 18 search warrants since January.

“The main point of our operation is simply this: if you’re going to sell drugs in our county, we’re coming for you. I’m not going to put up with it,” Crisco said.

He also talked about the sheriff’s office’s efforts to emphasize the use of drones and a canine program for search and rescue missions.

“If you would have told me two years ago that we would use drones like we use them now, I would have thought it was a waste, but we use them every day,” he said. “We used them twice today — it’s something that has astonished me.”

With eight certified drone operators in-house, the office now has plans of purchasing four new drones with funding that was awarded in a grant from the state. With this upgrade, each patrol shift, criminal investigations division, narcotics division and SWAT team will be assigned a drone.

“We do appreciate you, your officers and the job that you are doing,” Chairman Bill Lawhon told Crisco.

The commissioners are set to hold their next regular meeting on Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. inside the Gene McIntyre Meeting Room at Stanly County Commons.