Officers receiving safety kits

SAFETY KITS — Jefferson County Prevention and Recovery Board members have begun distributing safety kits to local law enforcement agencies to help protect officers and deputies when drugs and needles are involved in an investigation. Showing off some of the kits are Pamela Petrilla, director, and Daniel Obertance, associate director. -- Mark Law

STEUBENVILLLE — Members of the Jefferson County Prevention and Recovery Board are handing out safety kits to local law enforcement to help protect officers and deputies in the battle against the opioid epidemic.

Pamela Petrilla, prevention and recovery director, said the officers and deputies are on the front line of dealing with drugs on the street. Law enforcement officers are finding legal and illegal opioids on people, as well as hypodermic needles, she noted.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and the Steubenville Police Department were the first agencies to receive the drug safety kits. All other agencies in the county will be receiving kits, and emergency medical agencies also will receive the items, according to Petrilla.

“Since prevention and recovery is the hub in the battle in the opioid epidemic, we wanted to recognize the efforts of law enforcement and emergency medical providers,” she added.

The drug safety kits include a face shield, gloves, tweezers, a container for needles and sanitary wipes.

Petrilla noted that with used hypodermic needles being found throughout the area, there are three area locations where needles can be exchanged.

Northwood Health System, 353 American Way, Weirton, offers needle exchanges every Friday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., while the Family Recovery Center at 1010 N. Sixth St. in Steubenville has a needle exchange program on the first and third Fridays of the month from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Also, the Hancock County Health Department, 100 N. Court St., New Cumberland, provides a needle exchange every Thursday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Petrilla said the needle exchange reduces the spread of blood-borne diseases. Professionals on hand at the needle exchange locations also can reach out to addicts and encourage them to seek rehabilitation services, she noted.