As the Mayor and Police Chief of the City of Oxnard, we want to express our concerns about the dangers of fentanyl and its growing presence as part of the opioid crisis in Ventura County.
I, Mayor John C. Zaragoza, am a concerned City official, father, and grandfather regarding the increase in teen deaths due to fentanyl-laced pills. For the first time in a decade, overdose deaths among teens in the United States rose dramatically in 2020 and kept rising through 2021.
I have also personally endured the loss of several family members due to fentanyl overdose. This leads me to believe that we, as a community, need to do more to educate our youth at an early age about the dangers of fentanyl.
Chief Jason Benites can attest to the rapid growth of fentanyl overdoses in Oxnard and its threat to the public’s health and safety. During the early years of his career, Oxnard Police Department officers responded to a fraction of drug overdoses than they do today, perhaps one every couple of weeks. Now they are a daily occurrence.
As first responders, Oxnard’s police officers carry Naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid effects. In 2019, they administered Naloxone four times to revive overdose victims. In 2020, that number increased to 17 and more than tripled to 64 applications in 2021. Last year Oxnard experienced 50 fatal overdoses, far surpassing the combined number of people killed in traffic collisions and homicides.
The opioid epidemic continues to ravage our nation, and the impacts of fentanyl overdoses are rippling throughout our local communities. We need to educate our community, especially our youth, about the dangers of opioids such as fentanyl. It means we need to assertively intervene to help those caught in its grips to get treatmentthis saves lives. We need to arrest and aggressively prosecute those who profit from its illicit sales.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with addiction, talk to your healthcare provider or call the Ventura County Behavioral Health Access toll-free line at (844) 385-9200 or visit vcbh.org.
We are stronger when we are united. Together we must face the opioid crisis and give our community the education, support, and resources it needs to combat the everyday battles against fentanyl.
Mayor John Zaragoza
Police Chief Jason Benites