ESCANABA, Mich. (WLUC) - According to the Delta County Sheriff, patrol officers, especially those on duty at night, have seen an increase in opioid and other drug-related traffic stops in recent years.
"We've seen an increase in overall drug use across the board. Our department specifically has seen a 318 percent increase in drug-related calls over the past five years," says Gladstone Public Safety Officer, Nick Pellegrino.
These traffic stops are not only time consuming, but can be dangerous for officers.
"Processing the car, there's a lot of things officers do as a part of that traffic stop; search for additional drugs, and of course they want to get everything out of the car like the needles and so forth," says Delta County Sheriff, Ed Oswald.
Drugs aren't just a problem on the streets of Delta County. They're also a problem within the jail.
"We've had numerous incidents where drugs are smuggled in through the mail, soaked with letters. And that's dangerous for our officers. Our officers are checking mail with rubber gloves on. We're concerned over our officers' safety," Oswald adds.
Delta County will be making changes to combat drug smuggling into the jail when they move to their new location on College Avenue in Escanaba.
"It's something that every jail combats, is drugs coming in, to the point to where we will be changing our mail policy when we move. Our mail policy will change. We're looking at electronic mail," says Oswald.
The drug problem is to the point that Narcan is kept at the jail in case of accidental drug exposure in officers. Oswald adds that the jail is looking into other ways to combat drug smuggling in the jail, such as x-ray screening machines and drug-testing equipment.