(COLORADO SPRINGS) — District 49’s Sand Creek High School opened its doors for an evening of learning and discussion.

“We wanted to take a proactive approach,” Dean Baird, District 49 School Resource Officer said.

A school resource officer wears many hats when it comes to being inside a school.

“One of those things is an educational purpose and education is everything,” Baird said.

Local law enforcement says fentanyl is the leading cause of death in the United States for people between the ages of 18 and 45. El Paso County saw 99 fentanyl-related deaths in 2021 and 61 so far this year.

“We don’t believe that we can arrest ourselves out of this situation, we believe that education is paramount,” Robert Tornabene, with the Colorado Springs Police Department said.

CSPD reports an increase in fentanyl-related deaths and the amount dealers are carrying.

Data from the state’s public health department shows in 2020, Colorado experienced 540 fentanyl-related deaths, an increase of 143% from 2019. In 2021, there were over 800 fentanyl-related deaths, a 260% increase from 2019.

Local police believe a change in legislation is needed.

“That is something that the Chief is a very big advocate on, is trying to find ways to change the legislation so that we can have a greater impact with people that want to deal fentanyl,” Tornabene said.

In 2019, the Colorado legislature passed House Bill 19-1263, the bill made the possession of four grams or less of most drugs, including fentanyl, a misdemeanor rather than a felony.

It was not until May of this year that House Bill 22-1326 was signed into law, clarifying that any amount of fentanyl in a compound weighing more than four grams will be treated as a drug felony. The bill leaves the possession of fewer than four grams remains a misdemeanor.

Both law enforcement and school leaders are wasting no time and are taking matters into their own hands.

“Knowledge is power and I have kids that are high school and middle school age, and I just think the more information I can get the better,” John Devaux, D49 parent said, “Because it’s hard as a parent sometimes to talk to your kids about this stuff.

CSPD encourages parents to use the term ‘one pill can kill‘ while educating teens.

“This is a conversation that every parent should have with their child, this one pill that somebody may offer you at a party, you don’t know what it is,” Tornabene said, “That one pill can be the difference between you coming home at night.”

Sand Creek High School leaders provided information on how to assist someone experiencing an overdose, stating all D49 school resource officers carry a supply of Narcan. The district is currently advocating for more staff members to have the ability to administer the life-saving drug.