Martinsville police chief praises faith community for decreasing opioid overdoses

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) Last month the Martinsville and Henry County area was number one in the state for opioid overdoses per capita in January.

Numbers for February just came out and they moved down to spot number eleven.

Martinsville's police chief says that he's happy they're moving down in the rankings, but the work isn't done yet.

He stresses the fact that it's going to take the entire community and faith to fight this problem.

"We're not satisfied with where we are. We want to continue driving this problem down," says Police Chief Sean Dunn.

Martinsville Police have stepped up opioid enforcement.

They've indicted several people who they believe are contributing most to the issue.

Chief Dunn says he believes it isn't the police making the biggest difference.

It's the churches.

"I know they've been talking with their congregations. They've been talking with their members. They've been talking with their communities surrounding their congregations, and I really do feel like it's making a difference," says Dunn.

Several church leaders are part of the opioid task force that started up a few months ago.

"I think it's time that we put aside denominations, we put aside race, and we're willing to come together for the greater good," says Reverend Matthew Brown of St. Paul Baptist Church.

They've been educating their congregations about the dangers of opioids, so they can see the signs in loved ones.

Reverend Matthew Brown says it's important to focus on the big picture.

"We can't be inwardly focused. We have to have an outwardly mindset because that's what Christ would want us to do," he says.

The city and county went from 21 to 10 overdoses in a month.

Chief Dunn and Reverend Brown say it takes everyone to make that change.

"We're stronger together than we are individually," says Reverend Brown.

The opioid task force will meet again on Monday.

They are discussing going door-to-door and educating the public about the dangers of opioids face-to-face

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