Chief Richard Biehl of the Dayton Police Department (Ohio) identifies and discusses three key areas he believes law enforcement agencies must consider in developing a response strategy for addressing the opioid epidemic.
First, law enforcement agencies must recognize the importance of obtaining reliable and comprehensive data on the extent of the problem and strategies that have proven effective in reducing opioid-related deaths. Effective and comprehensive data collection is the only means of identifying, understanding, and mobilizing against a crisis of this magnitude. Second, law enforcement agencies must initiate and support strategic partnerships with public health agencies, people in recovery from addiction, and other key stakeholders. In Dayton, an initiative called, "Conversation for Change" identifies individuals struggling with addiction and invites them into a welcoming, supportive group to talk about a path to recovery and offer the services they need. Third, police departments should use their professional knowledge of the circumstances of opioid overdoses to inform and advise policymakers about the priority of effective policies that will create a legal framework for a successful response. In Dayton and across the country, data show that arresting individuals is not a solution to the opioid epidemic; policies must be in place that reflect proven strategies for bringing healing to those addicted to drugs.
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