LARGO, Fla. — U.S. Senator Rick Scott joined local law enforcement to discuss the opioid crisis on Tuesday.
According to the CDC, fentanyl is now the leading cause of death for Americans ages 18 to 45.
Senator Scott announced his Stop Fentanyl Package Act, a six-pronged bill that provides state, local and federal agencies tools and resources to combat the crisis.
Senator Scott said the proposed legislation would improve the federal government's response to the crisis.
The legislation would improve grant opportunities to law enforcement and would elevate the Office of National Drug Control Policy Director to cabinet-level position.
"It’s going to allow the Department of Justice to issue grants to law enforcement agencies and communities with high rates of drug overdoses to better trace criminals, train officers to identify overdoses and upgrade essential systems for tracing drugs and processing samples in forensic laboratories," said U.S. Senator Rick Scott.
Law enforcement from across the Tampa Bay area joined the discussion, including Clearwater Police Chief Daniel Slaughter, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis.
"Since 2019, here in Pinellas about 1,300 people have died from opioid deaths," said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. "Since 2019 to date, there were over 8,000 Narcan administrations by EMS in Pinellas County and the sheriff's office," he added.
Clara Reynolds, President and CEO of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, said the center took more than 200 calls in July related to opioid addiction.
"For the month of July, we took 234 calls specific to opioids. Many of those individuals are struggling with a variety of issues not just their opioid addiction," said Reynolds.
The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay provides drug and alcohol treatment and prevention referrals to local providers in Florida, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse/misuse, please call 211 or dial 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
For more information on how to seek help visit Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.