Governor Cooper visits Livingstone College and talks with WBTV about opioid crisis

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper spent the morning in Salisbury attending the annual Fall Convocation at Livingstone College.

Cooper was the keynote speaker for the event.

The governor also presented a proclamation in honor of 125 years of Black College Football.  The tradition began with two CIAA member institutions.

On December 27, 1892, Livingstone College hosted Johnson C. Smith University, then named Biddle Memorial Institute, for the first-ever black college football contest.

Following the Convocation, Governor Cooper spoke with WBTV about the alarming opioid crisis that has gripped the entire state.

"We have four people a day dying of opioid overdose in North Carolina," Cooper said. "There are more people in this entire country who die of accidental overdose than die in automobile accidents, so that shows we have a significant problem."

Cooper is serving on the President's National Task Force fighting the epidemic.

"Everyone is concerned about fighting opioid abuse," Cooper added.  "The STOP Act, which curbs prescription drugs, puts more responsibility on healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies, we've got to do more of that, working together, we've got to fix it."

It played out again near the town of Faith on Thursday.  A young woman died, deputies say it was from an overdose.  Family members tried CPR and called 911, but it was too late for the drugs that can reverse the effects, and that drug is a big part of the governor's plan to deal with the issue.

"We need the naxolone everywhere, that's the lifesaving drug that brings people back, we need treatment and rehabilitation, we have to keep going after the drug dealers and traffickers who bring this into our state," Cooper added.

But he, like many in law enforcement say we can't arrest our way out of the problem.

"Punishment is a poor indicator of behavior change," said Major Shon Barnes of the Salisbury Police Department. "What works best is when our community works together without our health community and mental health community to solve our problems."

Governor Cooper said police are trying some new techniques that he thinks could work here.

"A lot of law enforcement now are doing law enforcement assisted diversion where instead of arresting people they are taking them into treatment and we encourage more of that."

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