Cranston Police Department and Cranston Public Library to Host Public Forum on Prescription Drug and Opiate Abuse

Cranston Police Department and Cranston Public Library to Host Public Forum on Prescription Drug and Opiate Abuse

Colonel Michael J. Winquist, Chief of Police, today announced that the police department and the Cranston Public Library, in concert with the Cranston Substance Abuse Task Force, will host a public town hall meeting to raise awareness about the rising public health crisis in Rhode Island of opioid addiction, and opioid and heroin overdoses. This forum mirrors pervious public meetings hosted by United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Peter Neronha held in conjunction with National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week. The guiding purpose of this gathering seeks to reinforce the Department of Justice’s three-fold approach to the opioid and heroin epidemic - prevention and awareness; enforcement; and treatment.

The forum will be held at the Cranston Public Library (140 Sockonosett Crossroads) on Monday, October 24th, at 7:00 PM, and will feature a screening of the powerful documentary Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opioid Addict and a discussion with members of the medical, treatment, education, community-outreach and law enforcement communities. Parents, students, teachers, school administrators and the public are strongly encouraged to join the discussion at this event. United States Attorney Neronha has graciously agreed to serve as the moderator of the panel of our community’s leadership.

In support of the forum’s message of outreach, Colonel Winquist stated, “The number of opioid overdose deaths nationally and locally is unprecedented and continues to be a growing epidemic that can only be combated through a multi-disciplinary approach and creative solutions.  The scourge of opioid addiction does not discriminate based on socio-economic class and despite the best efforts of law enforcement, an illicit supply of prescription pain killers is readily available in neighborhoods across our State.  Those addicted to pain medications often turn to heroin, due to the lower cost.  The majority of heroin is being mixed with fentanyl, which is taking the lives of our neighbors, friends and family members at an alarming rate.  I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve on the discussion panel with so many highly respected and knowledgeable professionals.  I also want to thank United States Attorney Peter Neronha for taking time out of his busy schedule to serve as our moderator.  My hope is that this forum will serve as an opportunity to discuss not only the dangers of opioid overdoses, but also how law enforcement, health professionals, substance abuse counselors and the community at large can work together to prevent these senseless tragedies.”  

Mayor Alan Fung added, “As a former prosecutor I have seen firsthand the devastating effects of opioid addiction, particularly on young people.  As Mayor, I believe it is vitally important to raise awareness throughout our community and I urge Cranston residents and members of neighboring communities to attend this important discussion to learn more about how severe the problem really is and what can be done to address it. Tackling the epidemic will require a community-wide effort and this forum is an example of how public officials, law enforcement, social service organizations, and the recovery community can come together to find solutions.”

In addition to Colonel Winquist, panel members scheduled to attend include:

•    Dr. Melanie Lippman – Rhode Island Hospital Department of Emergency Medicine
•    Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Barry – Acting Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police
•    Assistant Attorney General Staci P. Veroni – Chief of the Criminal Division, Office of the Rhode Island Department of Attorney General
•    Dana Deverna – Coordinator, Cranston Substance Abuse Task Force
•    Dr. James McDonald – Rhode Island Department of Health

For more information on this event, please contact Captain Vincent McAteer in the Cranston Police Department’s Office of Community Outreach.

(release from Cranston Police Department)