In 1976, Texas adopted the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) guidelines, to get detailed, reliable crime statistics. In addition to UCR, there are several additional statistics that police departments must report—family violence, sexual assault, hate crimes, and the like. Of interest here, however, is the mandatory requirement from the Texas Health and Safety Code (481.185) that every Texas police department (including university police departments) report monthly “all arrests made for drug offenses made and the quantities of controlled substances seized by them in the preceding month.” Put simply, each police department in Texas must report how many drug arrests they made each month, and the amount of drugs they have seized that month. Reports are made on a specific form (called the UCR-84), and are sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety to be recorded.
This information is also available to the public, via public information requests. This data is important, insofar as it permits a microscopic view of what drugs are being possessed and seized in specific geographic area—the area can be large (Denton County, for example) or smaller (the City of Denton). Additionally, the data includes the quantity in which the controlled substance is packaged (e.g. a gram of marijuana versus one-pound bricks of marijuana), and the form the controlled substance was seized in (gram of marijuana versus a marijuana plant.)
What follows are figures obtained through UCR reports for Denton police agencies, as well as from public information requests to said agencies. Unless otherwise noted, the figures below concern the City of Denton Police Department specifically. None of this is to suggest the Denton Police are not doing a good job; if anything, it suggests the job they do is becoming more and more difficult.
Heroin Seizure by Denton Police Department Up 962% From 2015
So, for example, this data can tell us that between January 2016 and June 2016, Denton Police Department officers seized 6,079.86 grams of marijuana, 16 marijuana plants, 287.682 ounces of marijuana, and 10 pounds of marijuana. During this period, Denton Police also seized 35.8682 grams of heroin, and 681.561 grams of methamphetamine (and 12 capsules of methamphetamine).
All of this is interesting data, but it becomes considerably more interesting when first seven months of 2016 is compared with the entirety of 2015.
In ALL of 2015, Denton Police seized 3.726 grams of heroin. In the first seven months of 2016, Denton Police seized (as noted above) 35.868 grams of heroin—nearly 10 times as much heroin as they had seized in the entire year of 2015.
Approx. 1 in 3 Overdoses Denton Police Respond to Involve Known Opioids
Overdose calls that police respond to (along with emergency medical services) are generally classified as overdoses on a known or unknown substance. A “known” opioid overdose would include an opioid overdose where opioids were found, or were reported to have been taken. “Known opioids” include heroin, morphine, and fentanyl, as well as prescription medications such as codeine, hydrocodone, and Percocet.
According to the results of a public information request, from January 1, 2017 to July 15, 2017, Denton Police Department responded to approximately 91 total overdose calls. Of those 91 calls, 28 calls (or 31%) involved known opioids.
Of The 28 Calls, 53% Involve Heroin, Morphine, Hydro/Oxycodone, or Codeine
Of the 28 calls received by Denton Police that involve known opioids, over half involve Heroin or morphine, or prescription medications like hydrocodone, Oxycodone, and codeine. This is significant insofar as all these substances are highly potent opioids.
Approximately 1 in 5 Denton overdose calls involving known opioids responded to involve heroin or injectable morphine. This is keeping with the national data, which suggests 1 in 4 (25%) of overdoses are heroin specifically, per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)2017 Data Brief.
Denton Opioid Overdose Calls Are On the Rise Through July 15, 2017
On average, opioid overdoses in Denton per month have doubled for the period of January 2017 through March 2017, and increased thereafter with the exception of June 2017. Denton Police respond to an average of four opioid overdose calls per month. However, from April through June of 2017, the average was 6 opioid overdoses.
(All information above was obtained from raw data received through Public Information requests, concerning Uniform Crime Reporting for Denton Police Agencies from 2015 and 2016; Public Information requests concerning emergency response calls in Denton by Denton EMS, University of North Texas Police Department, Denton Police Department, and others from January 1, 2017 through July 15, 2017; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Data Brief No. 273 (February 2017) “Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999-2015). The raw data received was then imported into spreadsheets, and categorized according to predetermined classifications. Figures obtained were then checked by hand against the raw data from the public information reports.)