As heroin deaths and overdoses increase in many parts of the country, the White House intends to unite law enforcement and public health in an attempt to shift the focus from penalty to the medical management of addicts.
Based on research originally financed for one year in 15 states from the D.C. area to New England, the initiative will pair drug intelligence officers with public health coordinators to mark out where heroin comes from, where and how it is being mixed with a lethal chemical addition, and who is bringing it to street-level dealers.
Two principal officials described the idea to The Washington Post on the condition of secrecy because the agenda was not scheduled to be made available until Monday.
The new plan is a reaction to a sharp increase in heroin consumption and deaths in many regions of the nation, particularly in New England and some of the Northeastern states where the research was conducted.
The new attempt, suggested by the New York/New Jersey High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area plan, one of 28 such federally funded law enforcement initiatives countrywide, seeks to concentrate on those challenges by hiring 15 health policy analysts and 15 drug intelligence officers who will gather overindulgence statistics, establish patterns and get relevant information about peddling trends to street-level.
According a senior White House official, “Our approach needs to be broad and inclusive.” Explaining further, he said, “Law enforcement is only one part of what really needs to be a comprehensive public health, public safety approach.”
The Obama government proposed $133 million as part of new expenditure to curtail over-prescription of narcotic painkillers, the hard substances that have demonstrated to be the principal gateway to heroin use, and to increase the consumption of methadone and suboxone, narcotics that are utilized as more benign alternatives to wean addicted individuals off the influential urge to go back to heroin.
Comparatively, the $2.5 million that the white house is committing to the new program is a small financial commitment, but a principal law enforcement officer involved in crafting the latest strategy said the joining of police and public health staff is a principal step towards “both reducing crime and reducing the number of people who end up in emergency rooms.”
According to the senior officer, “If somebody from Brooklyn is arrested with heroin in Burlington, Vermont, we may not hear about it for months, when that information could allow us to see a trafficking pattern that lets us focus on who to go after.”
Public health statistics are often not extensively disseminated for a long time after the occurrences that create them. The proposal will let the law enforcement agencies and public health “to see where fentanyl-laced heroin is turning up, in real time, so we can react,” the senior official said.
The enforcement official said, “Heroin is killing people, and too often, public health goes one way and law enforcement goes the other. Often, grants create silos in government. This program is designed not to create any new agency but to bring people together to break out of those silos.”