Accidental Opioid Deaths Down in North Carolina
According to preliminary data collected by the NC Department of Health and Human Services, unintentional opioid-related overdose deaths decreased by 5% in 2018. It’s the first decrease in the state in five years. In 2017, deaths increased 34% from the year before, according to a release from Gov. Roy Cooper’s office put out on Thursday.
These figures are consistent with the decreasing number of emergency department visits for opioid-related overdoses, which declined nearly 10% from 2017 to 2018. The decrease reflects a preliminary estimate of 1,785 deaths in 2018 compared with 1,884 in 2017, according to the release.
“This is a major milestone for North Carolina but the figures show we have much more work to do to keep people healthy and alive,” Cooper stated in the release. “Medicaid expansion is the easiest and most effective step our state can take to continue our fight against this deadly disease.”
Governor Cooper signed the Opioid Epidemic Response Act into law in July 2019, removing the ban on use of state funds to purchase syringe exchange program supplies. The law also decriminalizes the possession of fentanyl tests strips that allow people to test drugs for dangerous contaminants and increases access to office-based opioid treatment.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Opioid Dashboard tracks progress toward five goals: reducing deaths, reducing oversupply of prescription opioids, reducing drug diversion and illicit drug flow, increasing naloxone access and increasing access to treatment and recovery services, according to the release.
While the numbers have declined for prescription opioids, the data captured as part of the state’s Opioid Action Plan continues to show that most deaths and emergency department visits continue to be due to illicit opioids such as heroin and fentanyl.
“Opioid overdose deaths and emergency department visits are two key metrics set forth in our Opioid Action Plan, and efforts to improve outcomes in those areas are clearly showing a positive impact,” said DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD. “While this is a significant achievement, we know far too many North Carolina families are still suffering. We must continue to focus on prevention, reducing harm and connecting people to care.”
CMPD to Update Use-of-Force Policy
Following the submittal of proposed changes to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s use-of-force policy by the Charlotte Citizens Review Board (CRB) and other organizations, the department released a statement on social media on Friday stating that it will release a revised policy before the year is over.
The new proposals focus on a part of the CMPD’s policy that reads, “In determining whether force is reasonable, it must be taken into full consideration that officers may be forced to make split second judgments that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving about the amount of force.”
The CRB would like to see that section changed to prioritize de-escalation and all lesser uses of force before deadly force is implemented.
In response to what the department said was misleading information being reported by local news outlets — though it’s unclear what information they were referring to — CMPD tweeted a graphic on Friday that clarified that CMPD Chief Kerr Putney had called on interested organizations to contribute feedback about the department’s use-of-force policy and had received feedback from the CRB, the SAFE Coalition and the local NAACP chapter.
“The CMPD has also already met with its external advisory committee, patrol officers, sergeants, command-level staff for feedback and input about policy revisions,” the statement read. “It is important that this policy continues to reflect the clear direction necessary for officers to navigate their jobs daily.”
The statement also said that Putney and the department have been working on these policy revisions for a year now, and are always reviewing and revising policies to the serve the department’s and public’s best interests. A new use-of-force policy is expected sometime in the last three months of 2019.
Around the Crown to Shut Down I-277 Inner Loop
Brunch-goers and those who serve them will have to find another way to circle around Uptown on Sunday morning as the inaugural Around the Crown 10K will shut down the inner loop of I-277. The city is expecting about 4,000 people to attend the race, which starts and ends at Romare Bearden Park and takes runners around the I-277 loop.
The event will significantly affect traffic until noon tomorrow. The closures and details are as follows:
- Inner I-277 — Closed 2:00 a.m.-Open 12:00 p.m.
- Mint Street (West 4th Street to West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) — Closed 3:00 a.m.-Open 10:00 a.m.
- I-77 South — Exit 11A — Closed during Inner I-277 closure
- I-77 North — Exit 11A — Closed during Inner I-277 closure
- East Brookshire Freeway — Exit 5A — Last exit; No access to Inner I-277 during closure
- West US-74 — Exit 242 — Last exit; No access to Inner I-277 during closure
The course closures also include the streets shown in the course map to the left. These streets will be on a rolling closure as runners pass through the course from 6:30 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. They are listed below the map.
- South Mint Street – Romare Bearden Park to West Carson Boulevard – All lanes
- West Carson Boulevard – Mint Street to North Church Street – Westbound Lanes
- South Church Street – West Carson Boulevard to Hill Street – All lanes
- North Church Street – West 11th Street to West 6th Street – One lane
- West 6th Street – North Church Street to West 5th Street – One lane
- West 5th Street – West 6th Street to Irwin Avenue – One lane
- Irwin Avenue – West 5th Street to Trade Street – One lane
- Johnson and Wales Way – Trade Street to West 4th Street – One lane
- West 4th Street – Johnson and Wales Way to South Graham Street – One lane
- South Graham Street – West 4th Street to South Mint Street – One lane
- South Mint Street – South Graham Street to Romare Bearden Park – One lane (after start)
Boozin’ with Beto
UNC Charlotte student Cade Lee, founder of the UNCC chapter of March for Our Lives and a 2020 candidate for Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners, hosted a stump (or picnic table) speech for presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke at Armored Cow Brewing Co. in University City on Thursday.
O’Rourke gave prepared statements for about 15 minutes before opening it up to questions from the audience of about 150 for more than an hour. He spoke about gun violence, among many other issues, saying he remembers where he was on April 30 when he heard about the UNC Charlotte shooting that took the lives of two students and injured four others. He spoke at length about his plans to curb mass shootings, including a buyback program that would pay gun owners to turn in assault weapons like AR-15s and AK-47s.
Lee said he was impressed with the turnout. He said he tried to bring the event as close to the UNC Charlotte campus as possible in light of April’s shooting and the Aug. 3 mass shooting that took the lives of 22 people in O’Rourke’s hometown of El Paso, Texas.
“UNC Charlotte is one of the last shootings we’ve had [in America], so it really served its purpose to unite the community tonight,” he said.
One Dead in Mass Shooting at UNC Charlotte Student Housing
One man was killed and three other people injured in a shooting at a party in the 49 North apartment complex, which advertises itself as student housing but is not affiliated with the university, early this morning, . CMPD responded to a call about a shooting that occurred in front of an apartment during a party just before 1 a.m. this morning and found a man suffering from a gunshot wound in front of the apartment and two women with gunshot wounds behind the apartment. All three victims were taken to the hospital, where the man later died. [UPDATE: The victim was later identified as 19-year-old Christian Estes.] A fourth victim was brought to the hospital by friends. He was suffering from a life-threatening gunshot wound to his chest, though his status is unclear at this time. The two female victims, both of whom are expected to recover, are UNC Charlotte students.
This morning’s murder was the second homicide in Charlotte this week, bringing the 2019 total to 72. Just after midnight on Tuesday morning, police responded to a shooting call on Classic Drive near Vance High School in north Charlotte and found 53-year-old Kenny Ollemi suffering from a gunshot wound. He was brought to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.