Washington County Elected Official On New Opioid Task Force

WASHINGTON COUNTY (KFSM) --  Earlier in the week, the Arkansas Association of Counties announced the formation of an Opioid Task Force made up of elected officials from across the state.

One of those officials is Washington County Circuit Clerk Kyle Sylvester.

The goal of this task force is to help law enforcement and increase public awareness concerning the opioid crisis.

“I think we’re looking at public education on the issue, I think we’re looking at how to secure funds for rehabilitation facilities," Sylvester said.

Sylvester spent over 20 years in law enforcement and said opioid dependence does not just affect the person taking the drug, it affects the state.

He says it starts with a person, but spreads from there.

“Now you’ve got to increase your man power to be able to respond to overdoses, to respond to criminal activity regarding the sale of illegal narcotics or prescription narcotics illegally," Sylvester said.

An increase in police officers is when Sylvester said the taxpayer will then see the impact this has on them.

Sylvester's plan is to talk with medical and law enforcement officials to find out what they have seen and what they suggest be done about this crisis.

He then will take that information back to Little Rock to pass on to the other members of the task force to find out what they are seeing in their part of the state.

Sylvester said there is no time to wait for someone on the federal level to do something.

The task force met for the first time on Monday (Oct. 9) where they received data they will use to accomplish their goals.

“I think putting safety precautions in place and unfortunately reactionary processes in place when this does happen…it really should be on the forefront," Sylvester said. "Then you have the education for people of here is what we are doing and here is the reason why.”

The Arkansas Association of Counties said in the past the state has had a shortage of Naloxone, an opiate antagonist that will help reverse an opioid overdose.

They say the Arkansas State Drug Director secured two grants that will provide Naloxone and training to eight counties in the state including Crawford and Sebastian counties.