Police pilot project leads to reduction in overdoses in First Nation
A checkpoint has been set up at the entrance to the island.
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) says a pilot project launched more than a year ago has reduced drug overdoses in Walpole Island First Nation in the southwest of the province.
A joint investigation by the Western Region OPP, Chatham-Kent Police and Walpole Island Police Department has been completed, police announced Tuesday. .
Project McNulty was launched following a declaration of a state of emergency in July 2021 linked to rising drug overdoses and deaths related to the use of drugs like fentanyl.
A checkpoint has been installed at the bridge leading to the island, to counter the transport of drugs. First Nation members have been trained to provide security and conduct bridge screening.
This initiative has resulted in a significant reduction in overdoses, according to police.
When we look at the numbers for Walpole Island, the biggest things I see are the 50% reduction in drug overdose deaths and the 57% drop in calls to ambulance services which often include calls for overdoses that don't are not fatal, Lambton County OPP Inspector Chris Avery said.
Inspector Avery did not specify how many fatal overdoses and calls to ambulance services before the start of the project.
As part of the investigation, search warrants were issued at the First Nation village on September 29.
Illegal drugs with a black market value of $141,000 were seized, including methamphetamine, cocaine and fentanyl.
Thirty people were also arrested and 149 charges were laid.
The installation of the checkpoints at the entrance to the island had a mixed reception from community members last year.
Some considered it a waste of money .
Others felt that the discovery of unmarked graves around former Indian residential schools across the country had caused trauma that may partly explain the rise in drug use.
Members of Walpole Island First Nation did not attend Tuesday's press conference.
With information from CBC