Ride-along shows what Gloversville cops face on frontline of opioid crisis
This is Part 2 of a 2-part 13 Investigates report. Click here for Part 1.
The opioid crisis is consuming Gloversville. Without a doubt, overdoses are one of the city’s biggest problems.
For the men and women on the front lines in the Gloversville Police Department, it wears on them. It is stressful professionally and personally.
13 Investigates’ ride-along with the department made that very apparent. Our team even responded to an overdose call with a detective.
Police Ride Along
On the night of the ride-along, detective Chris Zink was pulling a patrol shift because they are understaffed.
As he drove up and down city streets, it was a stroll down memory lane for the 15-year veteran.
“We had two or three drug-related shootings down in this area,” Zink indicated during part of the drive. “It was actually a hotbed. We had a few dealers living right here together.”
In another area, he pointed out the scene of a shooting.
“This place got shot. A car got shot eight or nine times,” he said.
“There’s a tree right here with a bullet hole in it this way because a shooting happened,” Zink pointed out. “It’s insanity. Absolutely insanity.”
Narcan is now a standard issue for cops on the street. Every day — sometimes multiple times a day — the overdose calls come in, and it’s a race against the clock. The pressure of getting there in time and saving a life can be overwhelming.
With record-setting overdose calls, skyrocketing crime, and the growing anti-police sentiment, why put on the uniform at all? 13 Investigates put that question to Destin Brooker. He’s barely a month out of the academy and still training. He’s already seen several overdoses.
“I wish I didn’t have to see it,” Brooker said. “It definitely pushes me to want to help out people more.”
Brooker is Gloversville born and raised. He admits many friends and family members have made bad choices, leaving them on the other side of the law. He’s determined to turn his city around.
“It’s very tough. You’ve got to help people, but people can only be pushed so far. They need to help their selves,” he said. “The drug problem is huge everywhere.”
So what’s Brooker’s goal?
“To have people look up to us again. Know that we’re humans too,” he said.
Brooker said he is ready for the challenge, but it wears on the veterans.
For Zink, the stress of dealing with department staffing shortages, the city’s escalating problems, and the revolving door of catch and release criminals, is nearly insurmountable.
To cope, he takes a few minutes to refocus. Every night, around 8 p.m., he gets a call from his wife and 3-year-old daughter.
Those precious moments are fleeting. Within minutes, Zink is racing across town to the scene of another overdose call.
Twenty minutes later, first responders and law enforcement made it on time. They were able to administer Narcan to an 18-year-old and it worked. Another life is saved.
The teen patient was wheeled out on a stretcher, crying and frightened by her near-death experience. However, will it be enough to scare her straight?