The Extreme Dangers of Fentanyl

The opioid epidemic has hit our nation hard over the last few years and San Diego County has not escaped this crisis. While heroin overdoses decreased 5%, fentanyl overdoses jumped 155%, which is indicative of a dangerous trend. Fentanyl products, both illicit and medical grade, are in demand and people are using them despite the known consequences. The demand for fentanyl has resulted in the acquisition of this product from illegal drug trade. Likewise, the increased transportation of fentanyl has made it very dangerous for first responders who are unknowingly exposed to this sub-stance in the field.

What Exactly is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. It is a schedule II prescription drug, and it is typically used to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery. It is also sometimes used to treat patients with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other opioids. In its prescription form, fentanyl is known by such names as Actiq®, Duragesic®, and Sublimaze®.Street names for fentanyl or for fentanyl-laced heroin include Apache, China Girl, China White, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfella, Jackpot, Murder 8, TNT, and Tango and Cash.

How do People use Fentanyl?

When prescribed by a physician, fentanyl is often administered via injection, transder-mal patch, or in lozenges. However, the fentanyl and fentanyl analogs associated with recent overdoses are produced in clandestine laboratories. This non-pharmaceutical fentanyl is sold in the following forms: as a powder; spiked on blotter paper; mixed with or substituted for heroin; or as tablets that mimic other, less potent opioids. People can swallow, snort, or inject fentanyl, or they can put blotter paper in their mouths so that fentanyl is absorbed through the mucous membrane.

How does Fentanyl Affect the Brain?

Like heroin, morphine, and other opioid drugs, fentanyl works by binding to the body's opioid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions. When opioid drugs bind to these receptors, they can drive up dopamine levels in the brain's reward areas, producing a state of euphoria and relaxation. Fentanyl's effects resemble those of heroin and include euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, confusion, con-stipation, sedation, tolerance, addiction, respiratory depression and arrest, uncon-sciousness, coma, and death.

Why is Fentanyl Dangerous?

Opioid receptors are also found in the areas of the brain that control breathing rate. High doses of opioids, especially potent opioids such as fentanyl, can cause breathing to stop completely, which can lead to death. The high potency of fentanyl greatly in-creases risk of overdose, especially if a person who uses drugs is unaware that a pow-der or pill contains fentanyl. Fentanyl sold on the street can be mixed with heroin or cocaine, which markedly amplifies its potency and potential dangers.

The medication naloxone is an opioid receptor antagonist that reverses opioid over-dose and restores normal respiration. Overdoses of fentanyl should be treated immedi-ately with naloxone and may require higher doses or multiple doses to successfully re-verse the overdose.

It’s important to understand that a speck of fentanyl the size of a few grains of salt can kill.

Proceed With Caution

However, users aren’t the only ones urged to take extreme precaution. The danger ex-tends to first responders, as well – especially when handling evidence intercepted from the scene of a crime.

Fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled if it becomes airborne, putting responders – and even police dogs – in danger.

When knowingly, or unknowingly dealing with fentanyl, if a law enforcement officer is simply patting somebody down, or if the deputy attempts a field test, and the fentanyl accidentally comes in contact with skin or the wind blows it in the face, that first re-sponder could be in grave danger.

For those who come into contact with fentanyl, the onset of adverse health effects is rapid and profound. Symptoms, such as disorientation, coughing, sedation, and cardi-ac arrest, can occur within seconds after exposure. Since one wrong move could be deadly, agencies are now instructing law enforcement officers to wear gloves and masks when handling any type of substance to protect their skin and lungs. After inter-ception, they’re advised to bring the evidence directly to a drug lab without stopping to field-test it.

In order to keep deputies safe — to better keep the communities we serve safe — the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has purchased fifteen devices called TruNarc. These devices were purchased with the generosity of the Hearst Foundation and the Honorary Deputy Sheriff’s Association. TruNarc devices use a Raman laser to test product through the packaging, which limits the exposure of toxins to deputies in the field. The department started using these devices in October of 2018, and field testing of narcotics became safer and potentially life-saving. The following two situations are representative of how TruNarc has worked in the field:

In October, shortly after the acquisition of TruNarc, Sheriff’s Deputies, along with other agencies, conducted a vehicle stop on an individual leaving a known ‘stash house.’ During the course of the stop, detectives located 10 pounds of methamphetamine hid-den in the car. A subsequent search warrant of the ‘stash house’ resulted in the dis-covery of 70 pounds of methamphetamine, 20 kilos of cocaine, $164,000 in cash, and three arrests. Detectives tested the controlled substances using the TruNarc device. The test determined two of the kilo bundles were not cocaine, but actually pure fenta-nyl; an amount which could have been lethal if exposed or placed into the wrong hands. If a deputy had touched the fentanyl, an amount as small as two grains of salt could have been lethal.

The following month, a San Diego Sheriff’s Senior Volunteer was on patrol, when he found a man sleeping in his car. The Senior Volunteer called for deputies to assist and they observed the man had what appeared to be a white, powdery substance spilled on his shirt and in the vehicle. Through the use of the TruNarc, deputies quick-ly ascertained this substance was, in fact, fentanyl and immediately called Hazmat. Again, thanks to this technology, no first responders were injured or killed.

This technology has already proven itself to be life-saving. It protects law enforcement and first responders and in turn, will help to protect our communities.

Learn More!

For more information visit:

For more information about the link between prescription pain relievers and heroin, visit:

For more information about the opioid reversal drug naloxone, visit:

For more information about fentanyl safety recommendations for first responders, visit:

Safe Driving Tips for Teens

In 2016, there were about 222 million licensed drivers in the United States. At around 26.2 million, California issued the highest number of licenses in the country that year (U. S. Department of Transportation).

The majority of these new drivers are teens, who have just acquired their learner permits or driver’s licenses. Here are a few tips to help parents and teens with the rules of the road:

  1. Keep Your Cell Phone Off
    Multiple studies indicate using a cell phone while driving is the equivalent of driving drunk―that's even when using a hands-free phone.
  2. Don't Text
    Research shows texting―on average―causes a loss of focus on the road for 4.6 seconds. You can drive the length of a full football field in that time. A lot can go wrong while you drive the length of a football field without your eyes on the road. Don't try the "texting-while-stopped" approach, either, as many states ban texting while behind the wheel. And, when you have your head down, you won't notice key developments that may occur. Remember, you still need to pay attention to the road when you're stopped.
  3. Turn on Your Headlights
    Using your headlights increases your visibility and help other drivers see you, even when you feel like it's light out. In the early morning and early evening (dusk), you need to use your lights or other drivers might not see you, which can be disastrous.
  4. Obey the Speed Limit
    Speeding is a major contributor to fatal teen accidents. That's especially true when driving on roads with lots of traffic or with which you're not familiar. Don't feel pressured to keep up with traffic if it seems like everyone else is flying by you. Driving a safe speed helps ensure your well-being, and keeps you away from costly traffic tickets that can cause a sharp hike in your auto insurance premiums.
  5. Minimize Distractions
    It may be tempting to eat, drink, flip around the radio dial, or play music loudly while you're cruising around town; however, all can cause your mind or vision to wander, even for a few seconds. As an inexperienced driver, you are more apt to lose control of your car. Distractions can significantly increase the chances that you 1) not notice impending danger or notice it too late and 2) lose the ability to control the vehicle.
  6. Drive Solo
    Having a single teen passenger in your car can double the risk of causing a car accident. Adding additional teen passengers causes the risk to escalate.
  7. Practice Defensive Driving
    Always be aware of the traffic ahead, behind, and next to you, and have possible escape routes in mind. Stay at least one car length behind the car in front of you in slower speeds, and maintain a larger buffer zone with faster speeds. Some car insurance companies will even give you a discount if you take an approved defensive driving course to improve your driving skills.
  8. Choose a Safe Car
    If possible, drive a safe car with the latest safety equipment (such as anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, and air bags), and one with an excellent crash safety record.
  9. Don’t Drive Under the Influence
    Teen DUI statistics should scare us all. Impaired driving is a major factor that increases the risk of a serious crash. Impaired driving includes driving under the influence of alcohol or drug use and when drowsy. Impaired driving affects judgment, reaction times, and awareness, which makes it especially dangerous for teen drivers whose inexperience already places them at four times the crash rate as adults.

Teens need to understand when they are unfit to drive. Consuming alcohol or other drugs, including marijuana, in any amount, makes them unfit to drive and can result in a DUI or worse. While it can be harder to recognize, driving while drowsy is also considered an “impairment” and increases crash risk. It’s critical that teens avoid riding with an impaired driver. Teens should know they can always call a parent for a ride home instead of getting in a car with an impaired driver. Teenagers and parents should know teen DUI statistics, impaired driving laws, and other facts about impaired driving to help manage this crash risk. Alternative rides home, such as taxis and ride share companies, are options in more populated areas.

Families with teens should be encouraged by research conducted at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia that shows teens with involved parents are less likely to crash and much less likely to drive intoxicated compared to teens with less involved parents. Keeping the lines of communication open really matters. Teens who share knowledge about their lives with their parents are less likely to abuse alcohol in the future.

Did You Know...
20 percent of high school students nationwide report riding with a driver who had been drinking alcohol at least once during the prior month.

Teens who drink underage or who ride with impaired drivers are more likely to drive impaired themselves.

In addition to direct impairments, driving while drowsy can also increase the existing risks of distracted driving and can put all road users at risk, including child passengers.

Teen drivers are less likely than adults to drink and drive, but their crash risk is substantially higher when they do, even with low or moderate blood-alcohol (BAC) levels.

Being awake for 18 hours is similar to having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08, which is legally intoxicated (

There's no substitute for driving experience and the wisdom that age brings, but by applying the above tips you'll enhance the odds you won't become a teenage driver accident statistic. Also, when you have a good driving record free of accidents, it's easier to find cheap car insurance in the future (

Pink Patch Project

Breast Cancer Awareness month is an annual international health campaign which raises awareness of breast cancer. Many members of our department, their families, and friends continue to be affected by breast cancer so again this year, our department will participate in the Pink Patch Project. This project is a collaborative effort between law enforcement and all public service agencies to bring attention to the fight against breast cancer.

During the month of October, Sheriff Gore has authorized uniformed personnel to wear pink Sheriff's patches to honor those who have fought - and will fight - this life-changing disease.

These pink patches are available for sale not only to department personnel, but to the public as well. All proceeds from the sale of the patches will be donated to Breast Cancer Research on behalf of the men and women of the Sheriff's Department. Although during the month of October, we will focus our efforts on breast cancer treatment and research; we support the fight against all types of cancer, and the people who are affected by the devastation it can cause. Combatting all forms of cancer is an important mission and it is hoped that one cure for cancer will lead to a cure for all cancers. Few of us are untouched by cancer.

Sheriff Gore advised, “I’m proud of our department and our Deputy Sheriff’s Association, who are sponsoring and managing this effort. With our Sheriff’s Department pink patches available for purchase; - I hope that at its conclusion, we can provide a generous check, which will support research efforts to develop cures for all cancers.”

About 40,920 women in the United States are expected to die in 2018 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989. While women under the age of 50 have experienced larger decreases, in 2017, it was estimated that approximately 30% of newly-diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers. (Jan 9, 2018 U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics |

Sheriff's pink patches may be purchased for $10.00 each through the Deputy Sheriff's Association, 13881 Danielson Street, in Poway (858-486-9009).

Thanks for your support!

Back to School Safety Tips

School Bus Safety

Transporting students to and from school safely is a foremost priority for school transportation directors, school bus drivers, crossing guards and others involved in getting students to school. School children travel to and from their schools by a variety of modes including school buses, private vehicles, carpools, public and private transportation providers, bicycles and on foot.

School buses are the safest mode of transportation to and from school in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 450,000 public school buses travel approximately 4.3 billion miles to transport 23.5 million children to and from school and school-related activities. We want to remind drivers of some ‘rules of the road’ to ensure children are safe in their travels to and from school.

While on the road and passing through a school zone, drivers must pay attention to the speed limit. The speed limit in a school zone is 25 mph. Always be mindful children can be in the area - even when school is not in session.

When behind a school bus, drivers must remain stopped as long as the red lights flash or the stop arm is out. The only exception to this is where drivers are approaching the bus from the opposite direction on a road with at least two lanes in each direction. When overtaking a school bus, you may not pass when red or amber warning lights are flashing.

Seat Belt Safety for Children

Children are our future, and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is supporting efforts by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to help parents and caregivers make sure their children ride as safely as possible every time they get in the car.

Child Passenger Safety week is from Sept. 23-29. During this time, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department will have Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians to show parents and caregivers how to install car seats correctly, provide guidance on choosing the right car seat for a child, and what to do if the seat is subject to a safety recall.

“Using car seats properly that are age and size-appropriate is the best way to keep your children safe,” explains Sheriff Bill Gore. “Car seats matter. They save lives when used the right way.”

In passenger cars, car seats reduce the risk of an infant being killed in a crash by 71 percent, and toddlers by 54 percent. While many children are buckled in properly in the correct car seats for their age and size, more than half (59 percent) are not.

Sadly, car crashes are the leading cause of death for children. In 2016, 35 percent of children under 13 killed in crashes were not restrained in car seats, booster seats or with seat belts.

Even if you think your child’s car seat is installed correctly, it doesn’t hurt to get it checked. Car seats can be tricky, and we are here to help. Here are some tips for parents and caregivers so they can be sure your child is the safest when they are traveling by car:

Parents and caregivers can find a car seat education program in their area here or on the NHTSA website under “car seat inspection”.

Bicycle Safety

Did you know ... Bicycles in the roadway are considered vehicles?

Bicyclists ages 10 and older should bicycle like vehicle, on the street, in the same direction as other traffic and follow the same rules.

Sidewalks were designed for pedestrians. If you bicycle on the sidewalk, bicycle slowly and give pedestrians the right of way.

Follow the rules for pedestrians - for example:

By following these guidelines, everyone can enjoy a safe back-to-school experience. Enjoy!

Take Me Home

Offered by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department

What is Take Me Home?

The Take Me Home Program is a regional photo-based information system hosted by the Sheriff’s Department and accessible by all law enforcement in San Diego. It is designed to assist law enforcement during contacts with members of the community who have disabilities such as, but not limited to autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s, Down Syndrome, deafness and any other developmental disabilities.

The program promotes communication and gives law enforcement access to critical information about the individual enrolled. The Take Me Home Program can provide law enforcement with emergency contact information, detailed physical descriptions, and photographs of the individual, as well as known routines, favorite attractions, or special needs of the individual if they go missing.

This critical data can assist law enforcement in communicating with, locating a residence for, or handling an emergency involving an individual with special needs.

Additionally, this program utilizes photo recognition technology. If an individual is located and unable to communicate, a photograph of the individual can be taken in the field and checked against those in the Take Me Home Program.

Why Have a Program?

Alzheimer’s San Diego estimates that six out of ten people with dementia will wander.

The organization, ‘Autism Speaks’ states that wandering by children with autism is common.

Missing person-at-risk type of calls to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department will frequently involve a person with a cognitive or developmental disorder. The sooner first responders have important information about the missing person, the sooner the search can begin. This valuable information minimizes response time and maximizes search efforts.

Who is eligible?

The registry has been developed with the intent to serve all members of our community who may find their communication abilities challenged or ineffective when interacting with law enforcement.

Can I submit my form and photo on-line?

Yes - When you register online you will be directed to submit a photo. There will also be directions on the type of photo to submit. Passport style photos taken from the shoulders and with a clear background are sufficient.

As soon as I send the registration, will the information be immediately available in case police response is required?

Not immediately. The registration will need to be reviewed by program staff prior to being made available to law enforcement. The delay should be minimal.

Who has access to my loved one’s profile?

Only law enforcement employees who require this information in the performance of their duties will have access to the information. There are strict regulations with respect to accessing and disseminating information.

Can I update my profile more than every year if there are changes? How do I do that?

You may, however, only information that has a significant impact on a law enforcement response will be necessary. Some examples would include a change in appearance (updated photograph), address, school, care facility, or emergency contact. If you have registered online you can access your account via your username and password to make the changes and re-submit.

Will I be notified when the annual renewal is required?

You will be notified annually via the email address you provided during the registration process. This annual update will be sent on the date of birth of the person entered.

After my child/dependent adult is registered, and if there is an incident, do I need to do something to notify the police?

Yes, please let the dispatcher know that the individual is registered in the Take Me Home program. In doing so, the information will be immediately disseminated to law enforcement.

How will this registry help if my loved one goes missing?

If the individual goes missing and is reported to law enforcement, a photo and emergency contact information, as well as triggers, stimulants, and de-escalation techniques will be sent to responding law enforcement. Time is of the essence.

What guarantees do we have that the interaction between our loved one and law enforcement will be positive once he/she is registered?

What is important to remember, is that simply having a person in the registry is not necessarily going to change law enforcement’s response in every instance involving an individual with special needs. Law enforcement will act according to policy, procedure, and best practice depending on the circumstances presented. Additionally, an individual with special needs can still be arrested, should he or she break the law. In that case, being registered will assist law enforcement in contacting family.

How do I enroll my loved one?

Enrollment is simple! Caregivers can enroll special needs family members, friends, or clients online

If you have questions, feel free to contact a Crime Prevention Specialist at your local Sheriff’s Station.

Students Speaking Out

History of San Diego County Crime Stoppers

San Diego County Crime Stoppers is a nonprofit organization with the mission of making San Diego County safer by helping law enforcement solve crime. Since 1984, San Diego County Crime Stoppers has been partnering with local law enforcement agencies to provide community members with a way to report crime anonymously and without fear of retaliation. In that time, Crime Stoppers has helped to solve more than 6,000 felony crimes, including 143 homicides. These services are available to anyone in the San Diego region.

Background Discussion

Crime touches all lives; directly and indirectly. Inasmuch as crime can leave a profound mark on our youth, school safety has become an emotional issue that has moved to the forefront of our attention. High-profile school shootings across the country and here, in San Diego, clarify the need for effective school safety strategies.

Following the success of Crime Stoppers, the first Campus Crime Stoppers program was also initiated in the early 1980s. Today, more than 2,000 Campus Crime Stoppers programs exist in middle schools, high schools, and colleges. In San Diego, our program is called Students Speaking Out. Through the Students Speaking Out program, Crime Stoppers and 12 school districts have partnered to empower students to speak out against crime and dangerous activity at school and in the community, since 1999. Students can anonymously report crime in one of several ways: They can call the tip line, download the mobile phone app, or through the Students Speaking Out website. The tip lines are staffed 24/7 with direct access to local 911 operators for emergency tips. Tip takers are versed in several languages to ease the flow of information. A full-time San Diego Police Department Officer and San Diego Sheriff’s Department Deputy are assigned to monitor and distribute tips. They work directly with law enforcement agencies to dispatch tips to investigating agencies.

The existence of a Students Speaking Out program does not indicate that a school has a unique crime or drug problem. Instead, the program is a proactive approach to creating a safer school environment. The Students Speaking Out program is frequently utilized within the curriculum to teach character development and also promotes school spirit, pride, and a positive campus image to students. In addition to a way students can safely report school crimes anonymously without fear of retaliation, this program encourages the development of responsibility. Students can participate in taking control of their school, while benefiting from a reduction in negative incidents on campus and enjoy an increased sense of security.

All schools have some criminal activity taking place on their campus, ranging from vandalism, to drugs, and even weapons. Student Speaking Out provides students with an avenue to anonymously report such activity safely. There are those who believe that paying rewards could promote students to become ‘snitches’ or invent crimes as revenge against other students, however, crimes are carefully investigated by law enforcement and we have found that only a small percentage of students ever collect the rewards. The students want - and need - a safe environment to learn.


In 2002, the U. S. Secret Service - in collaboration with the U. S. Department of Education - conducted a comprehensive study on school violence. One significant finding was that prior to most school shooting incidents, other people knew about the attacker’s idea or plan to attack. In most cases, those who knew, were friends, classmates, or siblings. This information rarely made its way to an adult. This study demonstrates that students should be part of crime prevention efforts and barriers such as concerns over retaliation, getting in trouble, or not being taken seriously can inhibit a young person from reporting safety concerns.

Another 2002 survey found only 43% of students reported they would tell an adult if they learned of a school violence threat.

One study found that 50% of school-age homicide perpetrators gave a warning of their intended actions. In some of these cases, lives could have been saved if someone had alerted authorities about these threats. An outcome of this reluctance to report crime is students taking dangerous measures to protect themselves.

How it Works

Students Speaking Out is a partnership between school districts, law enforcement agencies, and Crime Stoppers. The program currently serves 180,000 students, so Crime Stoppers depends on the commitment of schools to effectively implement the program. Through partnership and communication, the program can help to make schools safer.

As a nonprofit organization, with the sole mission of making San Diego County safer, Crime Stoppers, with its Students Speaking Out program, is committed to empowering students to play a role in making their schools and their communities safer. They work directly with partner school districts to develop and distribute appropriate and effective marketing materials to ensure that every student served has the opportunity to use their voice to make a difference. These methods include:

Tip Line Administration and Initial Screening: Crime Stoppers operates all aspects of the tip lines. Trained staff respond to tips 24 hours a day; 7 days a week. When an urgent call is received, law enforcement coordinators will be contacted immediately. Coordinators will then immediately pass on urgent information to the relevant law enforcement agency.

This is where the local law enforcement aspect of the program is critical. Local law enforcement will understand the community and know immediately who to contact in an emerging critical situation. School Resource Officers (SROs) are located on many school campuses and are an invaluable resource for coordinating information received, and disseminating it to the appropriate school and law enforcement personnel.

Non-urgent tips are screened and assessed on a daily basis and passed onto agencies by email.

Tip Investigations: SROs or school administrators are responsible for investigating tips received by the tip line. SROs are asked to complete the tip disposition form for Crime Stoppers to track the outcome of the tips and determine if a tipster deserves a reward.

Reward Payment: The Crime Stoppers Board of Directors determines the reward payment for each case that is solved. Tipsters can call Crime Stoppers to ascertain if they will receive a reward.


Crime Stoppers has a formal partnership with all local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. The community partners include Star/Pal, TkF, the San Diego Police Foundation, SafetyNet Program, and many other organizations to ensure maximum outreach, and leverage community resources.

Additionally, Crime Stoppers works with several local school districts through the Students Speaking Out program including: Carlsbad Unified, Coronado Unified, Escondido Union, Grossmont Union, Oceanside Unified, Poway Unified, Ramona Unified, San Diego Unified, San Dieguito Unified, San Marcos Unified, Sweetwater Union, Valley Center Unified, and Vista Unified.


As mentioned above, the Students Speaking Out program has been operating in San Diego County for 19 years. The program began as a partnership between Crime Stoppers and the San Diego Unified School District, but has expanded over the years to several other districts in the county. To date, tips to Students Speaking Out have helped to solve more than 400 crimes at schools, including the safe removal of 12 guns from local campuses. Each month, tips to Students Speaking Out are helping to safely remove weapons and drugs from school campuses and to stop bullying and gang activity.

Positive tips are broken down as follows:

* These include the new anti-bullying program


Students Speaking Out has an evidence-based success rate. The data speaks for itself: students will use technology, whether it’s a telephone, website, or mobile app, to report crime or prevent a tragedy at their school - if they can do it safely. Word spreads between students that Students Speaking Out can be trusted to keep the anonymity of those who speak out. Having a system of reporting that is easy, yet trustworthy, encourages participation. Simply put: it is a good program, that works.

For additional information, please visit:

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