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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Ocala overdose responses and deaths remain constant, amnesty participation down 33% from 2020

While overdose responses and deaths have remained relatively constant since last year, participation in the Ocala Police Department’s amnesty program has dropped by 33%. 

The information was provided during the Tuesday, July 20 meeting of the Ocala City Council by Ocala Police Department Chief Mike Balken and Ocala Fire Rescue Chief Clint Welborn. 

The meeting was the first attended by the newly appointed chief, who replaced former Ocala Fire Rescue Chief Shane Alexander on July 9. 

The agency heads both updated city council members on public safety opioid response efforts. 

In 2021, Ocala Fire Rescue and Ocala Police Department have responded to over 291 overdose incidents, as compared with 298 at the same point in 2020. 

This year, 34 of those responses have resulted in overdose deaths, as compared with 32 through the same point in 2020. 

Narcan deployments have remained relatively consistent, but participation in Ocala Police Department’s amnesty program has dropped 33% from 95 in 2020 to 64 in 2021. 

Earlier this month, Chief Balken joined other law enforcement officials and U.S. Congresswoman Kat Cammack on a trip to the U.S./Mexico border. 

“Having a better understanding of how and why this is occurring at such an alarming rate should help us better allocate resources and develop investigative techniques to more effectively disrupt the flow of drugs into our community,” said Balken during the trip. 

According to the Ocala Police Department, the agency has responded to 900 overdose incidents since 2018, with around 140 of them ending in death.