PALMER — At a recent Palmer City Council meeting, Drug Enforcement Agency Tactical Diversion Squad group supervisor Thomas Olsen discussed the asset that a Palmer Police Officer is to the DEA’s effort to combat the opioid epidemic. Olsen said that over 1.8 million opioids and over 1.6 million sedatives have been prescribed to Palmer residents over the last six years.
“Our mission is to combat the opioid epidemic facing our community and we aggressively investigate those that are operating outside the law by prescribing not in the normal course of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical reason. Our group is unique in that we can conduct both criminal investigations and regulatory investigations. To date we have initiated dozens of investigations throughout the state to include many that have a direct impact to the Mat-Su Borough and the city of Palmer in particular,” said Olsen. “Because of the nature of our investigations, sometimes you don’t see or hear the direct results. They can be very lengthy in scope and in time and sometimes unless it is publicly addressed, you might not know exactly what we’ve done or when we’ve done it and that’s unfortunate because without the immediate success and the knowledge of it, you might not realize the benefit that your task force officer from Palmer has been contributing.
Olsen provided details on the types of investigations conducted by the DEA’s Tactical Diversion Squad, which includes one Palmer Police Department Officer. Olsen said that there have been two documented deaths per year of Palmer residents due to overprescription from doctors and practitioners.
“The officer assigned to our group has been an incredible asset to our squad. He has brought a wealth of experience and knowledge. He has also gained an incredible amount of investigative techniques and skill through a collaboration with us. He has attended numerous national level training events and academies which is then taken all of his past experience from being a patrol officer here in the city of Palmer and then refocused his energies into a dedicated mission in stopping the opioid epidemic which he has done to great success,” said Olsen.
Olsen said that four arrests have been made of practitioners in the city of Palmer who were responsible for the prescription of approximately 950,000 pills.
“If it wasn’t through his dedicated hard work there was no way that we would have been able to have those kinds of successes and those successes are something that is then felt throughout the entire state,” said Olsen. “Other locations see what we are doing here and the doctors that were on the fence of whether or not they were going to be doing the right thing or the wrong thing, many of them have decided to start doing the right thing because of the dedicated efforts that our city of Palmer police officer has done.”