With the opioid epidemic taking over the lives of people throughout West Virginia, law enforcement has been fighting to rid the crisis.
Pills, Heroin and Methamphetamine are three things police across West Virginia see all too often. "It is literally an epidemic, there's no way you can sugarcoat it, it's an absolute epidemic," said Sergeant Nick Mooney with the Fayette County Sheriff's Department.
As a deputy in the Fayette County Sheriff's Department for more than a decade, Sargent Mooney has been on the front line of the fight to keep drugs out of Fayette County, but sometimes it seems like an uphill battle. "The next step in this process is literally seeing people lying on sidewalks in communities with needles in their arms overdosed," said Sergeant Mooney.
It's not just his job as a deputy that drives him, but it's his pride in the community that keeps him on the street fighting to keep drugs out of the hands of the people that live in Fayette County. "If the citizens of Fayette County actually knew how bad our drug problem was in Fayette County, they would be absolutely ashamed," said Sergeant Mooney.
It's like-minded officers, deputies, and troopers like Mooney that have come together to stem the drug problem in the state. "It's all just one big effort to get rid of this drug problem," said Sergeant Mooney.
The fight against opioids is one of the top priorities for agencies across the state. The battle is being fought where the problem begins, on the streets of their communities.
With help from K-9 Officer Arrass, deputies discovered heroin and prescription medication in Jeremy Miller's truck. Miller agreed drugs are tearing up the community. "It's not good, it has everyone doing things they shouldn't be doing," said Miller.
As a resident in Oak Hill, Miller said he sees firsthand how opioids ruin lives. "It makes people not the same as they should be, they're not the person they would be without it," said Miller.
Miller is just one of thousands of people impacted by drugs. Sargent Mooney said he believes the best way to fight this problem is a grassroots effort. "If we can prevent future drug users," said Sergeant Mooney.
Mooney's time as a youth sports coach has also shown him how drugs can impact children in the community. As children cope with neglect by drug-addicted parents, Mooney tries to guide them away from a similar path and toward a better future. "I can show them, life is much more beneficial to you if you take this path opposed to taking this path," said Sergeant Mooney.
It's the hope for a better future that drives Mooney to continue his work as a deputy and a community leader. It's also the dream that one day, the opioid epidemic will be a distant memory.