Kansas City to hire 2 overdose investigators in face of rising fentanyl deaths

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City will hire overdose investigators as part the Missouri city's effort to lower the number of fentanyl deaths.

An ordinance passed Thursday by the city council allows the city health department to hire two investigators and requires overdoses to be reported within 24 hours, the Kansas City Star reported. The health department now has access to overdose data that sometimes is up to two years old.

A Kansas City police official told the newspaper that the agency has confiscated more than 61,000 grams (about 134 pounds) of fentanyl so far this year, and Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said there was a suspected overdose every day but one in 2022 in Kansas City emergency rooms.

“Overdose deaths are at an epidemic level in Kansas City and fentanyl is driving the epidemic,” Lucas said. “Overdose death numbers surpassed our homicide numbers in 2021."

The new ordinance also calls for the creation of a review board tasked with reviewing real-time data on overdoses to get a better handle on the issue and figure out ways to help.

Lucas said the board will include family members of overdose victims.