HUNTINGTON — The Huntington Police Department’s efforts in the city’s personal fight in the nationwide opioid epidemic will be featured at length during the latest edition of the news digest show “60 Minutes,” which will air at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 16, on CBS.
The segment by CBS reporter Sharyn Alfonsi features Huntington Police Chief Hank Dial, Capt. Rocky Johnson of the department’s Special Investigations Bureau and Krishawna Harless, the department’s social worker specializing in mental health addiction.
According to a preview written by CBS, the piece focuses heavily on the department’s tactics to combat addiction and the positive results it has yielded so far. Though Huntington is initially framed as the “Overdose Capital” of America — noting the infamous 26 overdoses in a four-hour period in August 2016 — the city has since seen overdoses drop by 40% and drug-related homicides have fallen by 70%.
The segment makes particular note of Harless’ unconventional role in accompanying Johnson’s team during drug raids to help people on scene to recovery. During many drug raids in Huntington, multiple people are detained in a single house, though only a few are the police’s intended targets as drug dealers. The rest are often simply users who are eager to be referred to recovery care.
"Basically, our city was in a crisis. And their officers were exhausted. They couldn't arrest their way out of it," Harless told CBS. "I had to get out on the street, and I had to really meet with people all the time and be there all the time."
Johnson added, “We were handing the addicts off to her so she could do her job. And that freed us up to do ours, which was target the drug dealer."
The idea of directly meeting and referring those in addiction to treatment is now well-founded in Huntington. In late 2017, Cabell County Emergency Medical Services organized its Quick Response Teams, which Harless also works with, comprised of a social worker, a police officer and a medical professional who visit the home of every overdose victim within 72 hours of their overdose.
The episode will also be archived to watch online at www.cbsnews.com.