Crime may be down 4.5 percent in Lake Worth, but there have been 220 drug overdoses in the city from January through August, with 45 of them fatal — a number that has the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office concerned.
“If we had 45 homicides, we’d probably have the National Guard here with us.” Capt. Todd Baer told City Commissioners Tuesday night during his quarterly community policing report. “That’s quite a bit and it’s rising.”
There were 119 overdoses the first six months of the year in the city and a whopping total of 101 for July and August.
There were 62 overdoses in July and 39 in August. Of the 62 overdoses in July, eight were fatal. There were four fatalities in August.
Baer, who’s on the county’s heroin task force, said the data is somewhat skewed since many of those who overdosed are repeat offenders. “We’ve had people who overdosed more than once in one day,” Baer said.
He also noted how the sheriff’s office doesn’t always get overdose calls, so the numbers are actually higher. “When (Palm Beach County)Fire Rescue comes out and if (the victims) are not combative, we don’t get called,” Baer said.
As for the good news, arrests were up 5.5 percent from January to June when compared with the same period last year. The city saw decreases in reported robberies (107 to 79), burglaries (722 to 666) and vehicle thefts (103 to 87). Non-violent crimes were down 6.8 percent and narcotics arrests were up 21.8 percent.
Baer also touched on the city’s partnership with Assistant State Attorney Christy Rogers. About 10 months ago, the city arranged to have Rogers assigned to Lake Worth.
“This is one of the best things that’s happened since I’ve been here,” Baer said.” She works all our cases…she knows now who the bad guys are. We can arrest a guy 10, 12 times a year and it would go to 10 or 12 different state attorneys.”
Baer said Rogers is focusing on repeat offenders and helping the city with prostitution. PBSO said the city is pushing for stiffer sentences for repeat offenders in burglary, robbery, drug dealing, gang and prostitution cases.