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Heroin: Leaving local tracks

'We are doing our best to keep it out of kids' and adults' hands'

January 05, 2011 - Brandon Twp.- In the past month here, a 52-year-old man died, another man stole from his own brother, and a deputy pricked his finger on a needle during a suspect search, requiring a blood test— all due to heroin, a drug once considered to be an inner-city problem.

"What's really scary is the younger generation is using heroin," said Oakland County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Pete Burkett, commander of the Brandon substation. "We're scared it's going into the schools. It's not an epidemic, but I'm concerned. I don't want it to permeate the community. We are doing our best to keep it out of kids' and adults' hands."

On Dec. 31, an OCSO deputy attempting to do just that was injured when he was poked by a hypodermic needle during a search.

According to police reports, the deputy was alerted about 4:42 p.m. that day to be on the lookout for a possibly intoxicated driver on Ortonville Road. The deputy located the suspect vehicle and stopped the driver near Viola. He observed eight hypodermic needles, a digital scale and a metal spoon with a charred bottom in the vehicle. The 22-year-old driver smelled of marijuana and said he had smoked a few hours previous. The suspect also said he'd had heroin in the car for days prior.

During a search, the deputy reached into the suspect's pocket and punctured his skin with the end of an uncapped needle. The suspect was arrested for possession of heroin, operating under the influence of drugs, and possession of drug paraphernalia, and taken to the hospital for a blood draw before being transported to the Oakland County Jail. The deputy was treated at the hospital and released.

Burkett said unfortunately, needle pokes are a regular occurrence for police officers.

"It doesn't happen daily, but does happen regularly when you have to search vehicles, and purses, and people," he said.

Burkett noted that police supply companies make gloves that are needleproof, but they are not supplied by the department, officers would have to purchase their own. He is not aware of any Brandon deputies that own a pair and notes that there would be instances where there is no time to slip the gloves on before a patdown.

The chances of the deputy being contaminated with AIDS from being poked by a needle are very slim, Burkett said.

"It has to be the perfect storm," he said. "We've had guys come up with hepatitis, but never AIDS. There is more of a fear factor if you got stuck that you will contract a catastrophic disease than it being actual reality."

The deputy has returned to work.

In other recent heroin-related cases, on Dec. 14, a Brandon deputy responded to the 5100 block of Granger Road for a larceny complaint. The complainant said while his younger brother was visiting Dec. 8, he stole a black powder rifle (.50 caliber) and his compound bow. The complainant said his brother has a bad heroin addiction and has stolen many, many things from everyone who lives there, including his father and a younger brother.

The complainant said he never wanted to make a police report, because he is family, and that is why he waited a week to call—he was struggling with getting his brother in trouble. He told deputies he could not sit idly by anymore, his brother needs help.

The man told police his brother admitted stealing the gun when he was confronted and has already pawned the gun at a resale shop. His brother tells everyone he lives at the Granger Road address, but he hasn't in a long time as he was kicked out. He lives with his grandparents in Oakland Township. The rifle is valued at $900 and the scope is valued at $270. The case was turned over to the detective bureau.

Deputies also responded to a home in the 1500 block of Hadley Road on Dec. 3, where they found a 52-year-old male deceased with a hypodermic needle in hand. At the scene was a spoon with scorch marks and a brown powder substance believed to be heroin. Toxicology results are pending.

Burkett said deputies responded to four fatal heroin overdoses in 2010, and another six overdoses where medics were able to revive the individuals.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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