The Prevention Resource Center is proud to have the opportunity to work alongside our law enforcement officers in a variety of capacities. Many law enforcement officers are members of our community coalitions, attend our trainings, and provide us valuable information about what they see going on in the community. Recently, several staff members were given the opportunity to do a “ride-along” with the Odessa Police Department. This experience was a part of the PRCs attempt to build stronger relationships with members of law enforcement and to learn about what these patrol officers encounter as part of their daily routine as a police officer.
Members of the staff got to watch officers go about their daily routines and ask them questions about being a police officer, challenges of their job, and substance-related issues they frequently encountered. Some of the activities they got to watch were traffic stops and suspect interrogations. Our Community Liaison, Camden Mize, learned about some of the mental health issues the patrol officers deal with on a daily basis, “I learned how the police officers have to respond to someone who is suicidal. As someone with a mental health background, I think it’s great there is a protocol for how to respond to situations like that.” The officers said they respond to situations involving a suicide outcry or a mental health crisis daily, if not multiple times a day.
Our Regional Evaluator, Kayla Fishbeck, asked the officer she was riding with about what drugs they see the most on the streets of Odessa. The officer she rode with told her they see a lot of opioid-based drugs. He reported there being overdoses almost daily and the vast majority of these are due to heroin or an opiate pain reliever like Vicodin or OxyContin. The police officer reported they are focused on finding the dealers and getting to the root of the problem. He also expressed that he wished people were more aware of the resources in our area and how to utilize them. Kayla said it was a really informative experience, “My ride-along experience was eye-opening. I got a glimpse of what our law enforcement sees daily on the front lines and gathered a great deal of qualitative data on substance use and mental health. It gave me an insight to some community needs and gaps in services. This knowledge can be utilized in our own program to better serve our community.” The information gathered on these “ride-alongs” will certainly help inform our agency how to better target our prevention efforts in our community.
The Prevention Resource Center is grateful to the Odessa Police Department for this opportunity to shadow their officers for a day. We learned a lot from the officers about the community we serve and we hope to use the information to further target our services. Thank you to each and every one of our police officers and first responders for putting yourself in harms way every day to protect us!