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Cape May County prosecutes 2 on drug charges

When a resident calls 911 during a moment of crisis for him or herself or an acquaintance, they know they can expect proper emergency personnel to arrive on scene in a timely manner to provide appropriate care and aid. Emergency personnel would like the last thing on someone's mind when he or she calls for assistance to be a concern over whether they will be arrested due to a health crisis caused by alleged criminal behavior. However, Cape May County prosecutors, in conjunction with prosecutors from a neighboring county, are now pursuing drug charges against two men after two separate calls after an alleged heroin overdose.

In the early morning hours of June 12, police officers report that they responded to a possible drug overdose. Later on the same day, they reported a second alleged overdose. Both calls resulted in charges related to being under the influence of a narcotic. The conditions of the two men who allegedly overdosed are not currently available. It is not clear how officers determined the men's conditions were a result of using heroin.

However, it does seem clear what might cause officials in Cape May County to jump to a conclusion that heroine was involved. According to reports, there have been 21 reports of overdoses in the last two months alone, with nine of them resulting in deaths. While tragic and clearly problematic for the county, such a history with the drug in the county could make authorities more likely to assume that heroine was the cause of these two men's medical crises even if something else could have been the culprit.

Heroin is a dangerous, addictive drug, and officers are working hard to eradicate its use in Cape May County and other localities. However, prosecuting people suspected of being under the influence of the drug when they call for emergency care for overdosing might deter future users from seeking help, ultimately leading to more deaths. Since there is such an epidemic, it's important for authorities to thoroughly investigate each alleged incident to ensure they are not simply making assumptions based on past experience, and drug charges are actually warranted.

Source: Cape May County Herald, "Two heroin overdoses bring arrests," June 14, 2013

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