By German Lopez for Vox. Public officials have by and large responded to the ongoing opioid painkiller and heroin epidemic with a softer approach than previous drug crises. Part of that is states trying to save money after decades of expensive tough-on-crime policies. But some critics have pointed to two very different factors: race and class.
In light of that, the New York Times on Friday published a revealing story by Katharine Seelye about how race and class are driving a different reaction to the opioid epidemic compared with previous drug crises. Take, for instance, this quote from a police officer:
So officers like Eric Adams, a white former undercover narcotics detective in Laconia, are finding new ways to respond. He is deployed full time now by the Police Department to reach out to people who have overdosed and help them get treatment.
“The way I look at addiction now is completely different,” Mr. Adams said. “I can’t tell you what changed inside of me, but these are people and they have a purpose in life and we can’t as law enforcement look at them any other way. They are committing crimes to feed their addiction, plain and simple. They need help.”