WOOD COUNTY, W.Va. (WTAP) - UPDATE: 01/28/18 11:00 P.M.
The Office of Drug Control Policy reports there were 15 drug overdose deaths in Wood County in 2017. But the Wood County coroner says his official numbers will be different from what that agency is reporting.
Mike St. Clair says his count isn't finalized yet since some death certificates are still pending. He'll have an official count sometime in February and the results will be presented at a Wood County Commission meeting.
He says his numbers will most likely be higher than what the Office of Drug Control Policy is reporting.
The Wood County 911 Center tallied 363 overdoses calls in 2017. Sheriff Steve Stephens says that's roughly an overdose a day.
"As long as there is a market there's going to be dealers here that are going to deal and if we replace on someone will come in and do that. But there's a reason there's a Walmart in Vienna and Parkersburg because there's enough business, same thing with the drug business. As long as there are addicts and people that want to buy it, we're going to continue to have this problem," Sheriff Stephens said.
Sheriff Stephens added he wants more arrests conducted to get dealers off the streets.
ORIGINAL STORY: 01/21/18 6:01 P.M.
Even though West Virginia has the highest drug overdose death rate in the country, the latest numbers show things are heading in the right direction in Wood County.
The Office of Drug Control Policy reports there were 15 drug overdose deaths in the county in 2017. That number ranked 11th in the state.
In 2016, there were 45 drug overdose deaths, making the county 5th in the state.
Parkersburg Police Chief Joseph Martin attributes the drop in part due to a yearlong drug trafficking investigation that resulted in the arrest of 21 people late last year.
He says more resources could help authorities conduct similar investigations in the future.
"If we're able to dedicate full time resources to that specific mission, I think that definitely has a better impact, a longer term impact for the whole region not just Wood County but outlying counties around Wood County," Chief Martin said.
He says last October the county became designated to receive "High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area" or HIDTA funding. He says that money will go towards combatting the drug problem.