Saint John police issue warning after sharp increase in drug-overdose calls

Police in Saint John, N.B., have issued a warning after receiving a sharp increase in calls about drug overdoses.

The Saint John Police Force says officers have responded to about 30 per cent more calls related to drug overdoses in the first four months of the year, compared to 2021.

In the last week alone, police in the city have seen a noticeable increase in these types of calls.

Police say officers responded to about 18 drug-overdose calls in a one-week period between April 23 and April 30.

Fentanyl was suspected in at least eight of the cases, according to police.

Police say officers had only responded to six similar calls the previous week.

“Although this represents a small sample size, it may also be indicative that a more potent or dangerous substance is currently circulating in the community,” said Staff Sgt. Sean Rocca in a news release.

“We all recognize that homelessness, poverty, mental health and substance dependency are significant issues in our community and that they are complex social issues that require solutions from many stakeholders, not just the police.”

Saint John Police Chief R.M. Bruce has created a community action group, which will host a roundtable discussion focused on how to respond to these issues. The discussion, which will involve stakeholders and government officials, is set to take place this month.