Portland, Oregon’s police bureau said Thursday that since June, almost a dozen children, including a 1-year-old, had overdosed on fentanyl in the city, heightening concern in a community that, like so many others, has struggled to manage the deadliest overdose crisis in U.S. history.
Since early summer, police have reported ten teen overdoses, with fentanyl suspected in all but one case. Fatalities occurred in 50% of the occurrences. The Portland Police Bureau said in a press release that the victims included a 1-year-old, two 2-year-olds, and a 5-year-old.
Portland police have expressed alarm over the rising incidence of drug overdoses among young people. More of these overdoses have been reported since June than combined in the previous three years.
As the opioid crisis continues to worsen, more and more children are losing their lives to overdoses of fentanyl. In 2016, approximately 80,000 people lost their lives to opioid overdoses. A 2-year-old girl died in her home south of Seattle after encountering fentanyl in the house, a 1-year-old girl died of a suspected fentanyl overdose at a childcare in New York City, and a Californian 15-month-old girl was exposed to the opioid in her home and subsequently died.
This week, Democratic Governor Tina Kotek announced steps to handle fentanyl trafficking into the state, and police in Portland have enhanced patrols to shut down an open-air fentanyl market at an abandoned building downtown.
Kotek has reportedly given the Oregon State Police orders to enhance patrol and detective resources, as well as staffing on local narcotics enforcement teams, in an effort to cut off the fentanyl supply chain.
Until the findings of the Medical Examiner’s Office are confirmed, the incidents are classified as “suspected” overdoses.
All of these crimes are being looked into by the police bureau’s narcotics and organized crime unit.