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Advances in Investigative Techniques: Drug Monitoring Programs

Lieutenant Piotrowski, New Jersey State Police

Lieutenant Piotrowski, New Jersey State Police, discusses drug monitoring programs. With this program, his agency collects multiple drug-related data sets to ultimately have an impact on mitigating the impact of drugs in his community. Topics include the benefits of implementing a drug monitoring program, some of the outcomes of the program, and how federal funding can help an agency start such a program.

Lieutenant Piotrowski participated in an NIJ Day panel at the 2019 International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference and Expo.

The topic today for my presentation was for innovative police practices. And so, what we talked about was how we are—we’ve developed a drug monitoring program to collect a lot of different drug correlated datasets and link those datasets together and to ultimately have an impact on mitigating the opioid epidemic, identifying bad batches of drugs, mitigating overdose events, furthering investigations.

Through our drug monitoring program, we’ve identified the value in identifying a seemingly disparate datasets or datasets that law enforcement won’t traditionally use to investigate crimes and further investigations. And to do that, we’ve collected data from a lot of different resources. And ultimately, we had to collect data from different sectors and the public health sector, hospitals, private sector but with the—with the goal of reducing community drug harms. So at this point in time, we can identify bad drug batches in real time and we can mitigate overdoses when they’re happening now. We can identify at-risk areas, at-risk populations, and as well as at-risk individuals. When we identify the at-risk individuals, we have federal funding coming down to approach these individuals and get them into treatment. And it’s a really good advance for law enforcement and our mission of reducing the overall impact of the opioid epidemic.

So, through our data collection from Emergency Management System, naloxone data, essentially from EMTs and paramedics, we combine that with naloxone data from law enforcement officers. When we look at all the batches coming in and we look at the drug packaging and we look at the contents we were able to link up certain cases. And that led us to identifying suppliers and dealers. And what we did with that is when we combined all that data, when we identified where the batch was coming from, we then combined that forensic intelligence with source intelligence from our investigators out in the street. And we were able to identify a specific heroin mill that was packaging exceptionally deadly batch of drugs. We were successful. And our investigators, our opioid enforcement task force did find the mill. They hit the mill. And after they hit the mill and they shut down that drug operation, and that network, there was a 33 percent decrease in overdoses in the most impacted areas from that drug mill.

We receive federal funding from BJA under the Anti-Heroin Task Force Grant to start our drug monitoring initiative or at least to further it along. With that, we were able to buy contract personnel, technology, and some hardware and software resources to support our program further that helps us develop the intel and the intel supports the Opioid Enforcement Task Force which is also funded by BJA. We’re able to bring in multi-jurisdictional partners for county and local part of the task force in four different locations in the state. So, the funding is going from supporting the intel and now intel-led policing where we’re supplying the intel for our Opioid Enforcement Task Force and their operational.

Date Created: March 25, 2020