As the nation grapples with an opioid epidemic that shows no signs of slowing down, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) has released an extensive report on the state of the crisis and how law enforcement agencies are combating the issue. They also outline 10 opioid crisis actions police chiefs and sheriffs can take.
Introducing the report’s findings, PERF Executive Director Chuck Wexler outlined the seriousness of the epidemic:
In just one year, 2016, nearly as many people died from opioid overdoses as all U.S. fatalities during the entire course of the Vietnam War,” Wexler wrote. “And despite the huge amount of hard work and thoughtful strategies that police chiefs and sheriffs have thrown at this problem over the last few years, the crisis has not yet peaked. It is still getting worse, according to federal statistics.”
Civic leaders are advised to review the full report, available in full below, which includes:
- How police and other agencies are sharing intel to fight fatal ODs.
- How police are working with overdose victims to prevent future drug abuse.
- The widespread adoption of naloxone in agencies and its effect on the crisis.
- The role of jails in drug treatment and rehabilitation.
- The importance of outreach to at-risk juveniles.
- Law enforcement’s role in educating the public on the dangers of opioids.
- The complex legal issues tied to the crisis.
PERF’s 10 Opioid Crisis Actions for Law Enforcement
On page 14 of the report, PERF describes the following 10 opioid crisis actions:
- Naloxone, here’s a grant opportunity for kits
- Data collection, here’s how they are using data to track and predict opioid overdoses in Cincinnati and throughout Ohio
- Early warning systems, here’s how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are funding systems
- Compstat, here’s an example of data efforts are drastically reducing overdoses in Lowell, Mass.
- Get users into treatment, here’s an example where emergency rooms in Ohio facilitate and a here’s three things to know about assisted outpatient treatment
- Drug treatment in jails, there’s funding to begin the process with grants for drug treatment court
- Strategic enforcement prosecution, here’s advice on how to be strategic with opioid-related arrests
- Focus on prevention through public education, here’s an example of education and training of fishermen in Gloucester, Mass.
- Work with partners, here’s an example from LaCrosse, Wis., and one from St. Charles County, Mo.
- Encourage officer safety, hazmat concern amongst first responders is high
In addition, PERF profiles New York City’s multi-agency, multi-pronged approach to the opioid epidemic, which includes outfitting their officers with naloxone, investigating all fatal and nonfatal overdose cases, early diversion programs and data sharing.