Fighting Fentanyl: How Pearsall police chief is keeping city safe from the drug

Officers trained to deal with those experiencing overdose of fentanyl, chief says

PEARSALL, Texas – Only three milligrams of fentanyl is enough to kill an average adult male. The potent synthetic opioid is having a significant impact on how police in Pearsall do their jobs.

Only 7,000 people live in the city, 55 miles southwest of San Antonio. Pearsall Police Chief Daniel Flores said fentanyl is forcing officers to change how they handle their jobs.

“We had three separate incidents on the 4th of July weekend involving overdoses, which were later found to be fentanyl-related,” Flores said.

After those incidents, Chief Flores started to pivot and train his officers more on handling fentanyl and the people who may be high from it.

“If they come into contact or they come into a visible view of a powdery substance, [they’re taught to] back away, to put on any protective equipment they may have, including gloves, masks,” Flores explained.

Pearsall police officers are also prepared to jump into action if they encounter someone having a medical emergency. They’ve all been trained in using Narcan, the medication that can stop an overdose.

Soon, some Pearsall officers will get another tool.

“We’re in the process right now of ordering respirators for officers, mainly the detectives who are going to be dealing with the incidents [like the ones] that occurred this past summer,” Flores said.

The chief said he constantly thinks about the people who died from fentanyl overdose this past summer. He hopes all the changes his department makes can save lives in the future.

“Our job is to preserve life, and we want to do our best,” he said.

“Hopefully, the message will get out and bring some awareness,” added Flores.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 70,000 Americans died from overdosing on fentanyl in 2021.


About the Author:

Stephania Jimenez is an anchor on The Nightbeat. She began her journalism career in 2006, after graduating from Syracuse University. She's anchored at NBC Philadelphia, KRIS in Corpus Christi, NBC Connecticut and KTSM in El Paso. Although born and raised in Brooklyn, Stephania considers Texas home. Stephania is bilingual! She speaks Spanish.