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St. Pete Police trying to curb spice problem

Posted at 6:50 PM, Mar 21, 2016

Authorities in Pinellas County are calling a recent spike in the use of spice, an epidemic and they're doing everything they can to stop it.

Quinton Taylor knows he is lucky to be alive.  At just 16, a friend introduced him to spice and he now calls it the worst experience of his life.

"To be honest with you, I almost died here in St Vinny's.  As soon as that happened, I was like man, I don't need to be smoking this mess no more," Taylor said..

Police say drug dealers are targeting the homeless with cheap spice.  A Clearwater Police officer caught video of three near lifeless people who were high.  Around Unity Park in St. Pete, EMS have responded to 30 medical calls for spice overdoses in the past few days.

"They're calling it the one hit and quit on the street and it's knocking folks out," said Richard Linkiewicz, St. Pete Police homeless outreach officer.
 
Officers are doing everything they can to get people to stop using spice, doing routine sweeps of parks where the drug's been a problem.

"They're not here to mess with you.  Bottom line is they're getting the word out.  People are dying of this stuff," an officer said on patrol in Unity Park.
 
Officers are handing out brochures and even offering the chance for addicts to enter drug rehab in beds the city's paid for.

"Whoever needs help, wants treatment, they can do a 30-day program there free of charge," said Officer Linkiewicz.
 
They hope the efforts will save lives and prevent the drug from getting into the hands of teenagers on spring break.

"What we have right now is epidemic and bad enough. It could get worse, and I just pray it doesn't," Officer Linkiewicz.