LA City Council takes steps to prepare against new street drugs
The Los Angeles City Council Friday unanimously voted to direct its police and fire departments to report back on existing protocols used to identify and respond to new streets drugs following concerns of overdoses happening in schools and the suspected overdose deaths of three people found inside a Skid Row apartment building in April.
Councilwoman Traci Park introduced a motion seeking to help the city better understand the need for response procedures and better align the efforts of first responders, the county’s Department of Public Health and city personnel in an effort to combat the fentanyl crisis and respond to new opioids. In addition, the motion calls for a report on current practices to ensure the safety of city personnel who come in contact with substances.
“Ultimately, responding to this crisis is going to require robust cooperation with our state and federal partners as well as public health officials,” Park said. “Today’s action will allow us to take a closer look at our protocols for identifying these new drugs as they emerge here in Los Angeles and ensure that we’re maintaining open lines of communication between first responders and our public health officials.”
Los Angeles County reported an increase of deaths caused by or linked to the use of fentanyl, up from 109 to 1,504 fatalities between 2016 and 2021. Last month, three bodies were found inside a building in the 600 block of Wall Street, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department, which described the fatalities as suspected overdoses.
While the exact details surrounding the deaths have yet to be disclosed pending confirmation from the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner, the fatalities raised concerns about “tranq,” which Los Angeles Police Department officials described as a potent and deadly combination of fentanyl and xylazine, a sedative, coming into the Southland.
Tranq is more potent than fentanyl, is unresponsive to the overdose-reversal drug Narcan and in severe cases can require amputation of limbs, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the building where the three bodies were found Wednesday, known as 649 Lofts, is owned by the Skid Row Housing Trust, a nonprofit housing provider.
The city recently established a receivership for the trust after it announced it was unable to continue operating its 29 buildings.