Safer Marion

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Opioid crisis Texting while driving
Theft prevention Scams and fraud

Opioid crisis

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine and morphine.

These drugs are highly addictive and can cause severe negative health effects, including death. Every day, 116 people die from opioid-related drug overdoses in the United States. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared a nationwide public health emergency due to the nationwide opioid crisis.

Marion County has experienced a dramatic increase in deaths caused by opioids. There were 17 deaths in 2015, 98 deaths in 2016, and an estimated 160 deaths in 2017 (Fifth Circuit Medical Examiner’s Office). There is hope! If you, or someone you know, is addicted to heroin or opioids, you can get local help right now.

Marion County opiate helpline: 352-877-2740

Text or call 352-877-2740 for real-time help with concerns about a friend or loved one.

Marion County is proud to support the Marion County Heroin/Opioid Task Force under the leadership of the Marion County Children's Alliance.

The task force works with local agencies to provide residents and visitors with programs and services such as professional navigators and a valuable resource guide at no charge. 

Learn more about the task force, signs of addiction and programs available here. To get involved in our community's fight against the heroin/opioid epidemic, join the task force or one of its subcommittees. The task force meets quarterly and subcommittee meetings are held monthly. View upcoming meeting dates here.

Other resources

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; national helpline: 800-662-4357

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

National Institute on Drug Abuse


Other crime prevention topics 

Theft prevention

It only takes a few seconds for a thief to break into your vehicle, grab your valuables and be gone. Follow these tips to ensure you don't also become a victim, and share with your friends and family to help build a safer Marion County for everyone.

Lock your doors.
Thieves are looking for a quick, easy target. Locking your doors is the most effective way to deter a thief.

Secure your valuables.
Never leave laptops, smartphones, purses or wallets in plain view. Thieves will break into your vehicle even for loose change!

Park in a well-lit area.
If your vehicle is parked near a house light or street light, a thief is more likely to pass your vehicle by untouched.

Other resources

    Vehicle theft prevention

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


    Texting while driving is dangerous and illegal

    Why is it dangerous?

    Texting takes your mind and your eyes off the road.

    It's a distraction - and distracted driving was the cause of most of the 10,000+ crashes in Marion County last year.

    Nationally, more than eight people are killed and 1,161 are injured daily in crashes due to distracted driving, according to the Federal Communications Commission. 

    Glancing down to read or send a text can take your eyes off the road for about five seconds. It doesn't seem long, but at 55 mph, you can cover the length of an entire football field in that brief time frame, per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

    A lot can happen on the roadway in less than five seconds - a sudden stop, a dog darting into traffic, another driver running a red light. Driving requires your full attention. Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road for your own safety and the safety of others. 

    Is it really illegal?

    Yes, per Florida State Statute 316.305. In addition, the statute allows a user's billing records for their phone to be admitted as evidence to determine if the driver involved in a crash resulting in death or injury was texting at the time. 

    Other resources

    Florida State Statute 316.305

    Florida Department of Motor Vehicles

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

     


     

    Scams and fraud

    Hundreds of people fall for scams every year in Marion County, losing money and their sense of security. Follow these tips to ensure you don't also become a victim, and share with your friends and family to help build a safer Marion County for everyone.

    Watch for:

    1. Unsolicited calls or emails. These are communications that you aren't expecting and are out of the ordinary.

    2. Requests for money or personal information. You may be asked to pay a bill, donate to a charity or pay a fine. Or, you could be asked for your credit card, bank account or social security number. 

    3. Required wire transfers. Wire transfer services don't have the same fraud protection as credit or debit cards, and are often the means used by scammers to obtain money from their victims. Reputable companies and government agencies would not require wiring money.

    4. Tight deadlines. You might be asked to provide money or personal information very quickly. You might be told that your utilities will be shut off, your assets will be repossessed or that your credit card was stolen. This is an effort to force you to make a hasty decision.

     If you receive a call with these characteristics:

    1. Don't share. Don't give any financial or personal information.

    2. Hang up. Get off the phone with the suspicious caller.

    3. Verify. If you think the caller might be legitimate, call the company using a phone number on a bill, bank statement or other verified source. This extra step is worth the time spent to ensure you are not releasing information that could be used to defraud you.

    Other resources:

    Federal Trade Commission scam alerts

    FBI common fraud schemes

    USA.gov scams and frauds information

    Marion County Sheriff's Office