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Increased communication helping Danville police investigate drug overdoses

Nine overdoses, one fatal, have happened this week

DANVILLE, Va. – A series of overdoses in Danville this week have turned deadly.

On Thursday, Danville police announced a 30-year-old man died

He is one of nine overdoses that Danville police are investigating.

Police also reported Thursday an additional three overdoses, two of which are believed to have been caused by the same substance that caused the six reported on Wednesday.

What, exactly, that substance is was still under investigation Thursday.

Two suspects are in jail, thanks in part to what police call enhanced reporting protocols.

When 911 dispatchers in Danville received a call for medical help, EMS personnel quickly respond.

If the medics arrive and believe the person needing help overdosed, dispatchers will receive another call.

“The EMS crews, both the transport agency and the fire department, will notify the 911 Center," said Danville Assistant Fire Chief Tim Duffer.

Police officers are then notified and can quickly respond to the scene, or the hospital, to investigate.

Duffer said overdoses have been a growing a problem over the past year.

“We want to be proactive and try to stop it before it becomes a major problem," said Duffer.

According to court documents, the two men charged in connection with six of the overdoses may have been dealing meth and cocaine.

Trakas and Barley were charged in connection to six overdoses in 48 hours in Danville
Trakas and Barley were charged in connection to six overdoses in 48 hours in Danville (Danville Police Department)

Investigators said they found the drugs inside Matthew Trakas and Andreiu Barley’s homes.

They’re still unsure what the victims took and whether it was laced with another substance.

“It’s very taxing on the police department. It’s very taxing on the investigators that are tasked with running these things down,” said Danville Police Department Lt. David Whitley.

According to a news release from the police department Tuesday, when the victims overdosed they were using what they thought was heroin.

But with this increased communication, which Whitley said started in October 2019, police are able to make arrests and potentially keep this from becoming a larger problem.

“We’re able to try to go back and track the sources of the substance," Whitley said. “We’re not out here focusing on and targeting people who are suffering from addiction. We’re out here trying to save those lives, educate people with the narcan program, educating people where they can get help through Danville-Pittsylvania Community Services.”

The increased communication has been very helpful.

“In October 2019, we were really able to recognize a shortcoming in the reporting process back then," Whitley said. “Generally speaking, when we had an overdose it was treated as a medical event. Obviously, the proper first responders would respond to that. We wouldn’t find out until later on down the road, if at all.”