DENVER — This week law enforcement agencies and prosecutors are training on how to enforce Colorado’s new fentanyl accountability bill that takes effect July 1.
The new law signed by Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) last month is meant to bring stronger charges against those who deal and possess the drug.
“Because of dealing this poison somebody dies, overdoes, and now we have the tool essentially to charge them with a sentence enhancer,” said 18th Judicial District Attorney John Kellner.
“And what that gives us the ability to do is obviously hold people accountable for the death. But also gives us the ability to trace up who sold that product to the dealer and go back to the source.”
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Over the next two days at the Denver Art Museum the dozens in attendance will go under an intense training focused on a growing problem.
“What this conference shows is an unanimity of concern and an unanimity of purpose to go forward and do the best job we can with the tools we’ve been given,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers.
The training is meant to outline to new tools and tactics available with the law.
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“We are going to be sharing tactics, strategies, confidential information, we’re getting, we’re going to be getting confidential briefings- from the DEA, FBI, prosecutors will be sharing confidential tactics as well. So, it is a closed session for law enforcement only,” said Denver City Attorney Kristin Bronson.
Now is the time to make training available as Colorado enters its third wave of the opioid epidemic, according to Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.
“First it was prescription pills, then the cartel saw they had customers and brought in heroin, now its fentanyl,” he said. “And we saw in 2020 twice as many deaths from fentanyl as prescription pills.”
This crisis prompt new challenges not only for law enforcement but families of victims who want to see the crisis end.
“We’ve got to evolve from the ways that we used to address drugs; this is a drug like we’ve never seen before. And we have to take a new approach,” said Andrea Thomas.
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She spoke to 9NEWS in early May about the death of her 32-year-old daughter Ashley Romero. She was given half a pill she thought was oxy, but it was laced with fentanyl nearly four years ago in Grand Junction.
“This much of a pill took my daughter’s life. This is what we’re talking about today,” Thomas said.
She attended the summit to share her story about the loss she’s suffered and to help others better understand the pain.
“I think it’s important for families who’ve lost people to fentanyl that they understand that we in the law enforcement community, the district attorney community, we hear their pain, we understand what they’ve been going through,” Kellner said.