Jacksonville leaders focus on fentanyl threat to first responders

Drug box of  Fentanyl containing fentanil for treatment of sever
New legislation and an ad campaign takes aim at an all-too-common scourge.

A new bill and a new ad campaign signal the commitment of Northeast Florida elected officials to blunt the impact of fatal fentanyl on first responders.

A Jacksonville Republican seeks to impose hard time on those who expose first responders to fentanyl when they are responding to crimes or emergency situations.

Rep. Jessica Baker’s measure (HB 231) contemplates felony penalties for “persons who unlawfully & intentionally possess specified controlled substances or mixtures & who expose law enforcement officers & others who are acting in their official capacity to such substances or mixtures & causing serious injury.”

Law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics would all be protected under this bill should it become law.

Guilty parties “must be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 15 years. If the injury sustained results in death or great bodily harm, the person commits a felony of the first degree … and, upon conviction thereof, must be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 30 years.”

The bill does not have a Senate companion at this writing, but that’s likely to change soon.

Baker is an Assistant State Attorney in the 7th Circuit. Her bill comes as Melissa Nelson, the elected State Attorney in the 4th Circuit, is launching a fentanyl awareness campaign called “On High Alert.”

The five-part series will feature first responders, those in recovery, victims and their next of kin, and elected officials. Our goal with this program is to educate the public, but specifically reach parents and their teenagers who we hope are having important conversations about the dangers of today’s street drugs,” Nelson’s office announced.

You can see the first video in the series, which runs for the next few weeks, below.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


One comment

  • MH/Duuuval

    October 21, 2023 at 10:32 am

    Can Baker hold two elected offices simultaneously? That don’t sound right.

    In any case Baker does not represent Jacksonville except insofar as her husband has his grimy fingerprints over local GOP politics. She is one of a growing number of nepots and legacies spouting from the DeSantis-Trump nexus.

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