The state of Maryland has a heroin problem. Baltimore has even been dubbed the “heroin capital of America.” Studies have shown 1 in 10 Baltimore residents to be heroin addicts. The rest of the state is plagued as well, with overdose rates soaring in multiple counties. The state of Maryland also has a crime problem. The FBI recently named Maryland as the ninth most dangerous state in the country, more dangerous than Michigan, California, and even New York.
Maryland Governor Hogan Pledges Millions
To help stop the madness in Maryland, the state’s governor, Larry Hogan, pledged $3 million earlier this month. Approximately one-third will be spent providing heroin coordinators to every region in the state, and the rest will be used as funding for the Safe Streets Initiative. Heroin coordinators will provide data-sharing between law enforcement agencies, the state’s attorney offices, the Health Department, and the general public. This is essential to combating the problem, as research yields results which can then be rendered. Basically, the more that is known, the more that can be done about it.
The Safe Streets Initiative is the main focus, a program designed to reduce violent crime in Maryland. Over $2 million was allocated to it, and it has proven itself to be effective for crime reduction in Maryland in the past. The first Safe Streets Initiative was launched in Annapolis in 2008, and the second in Salisbury in 2010. After showing success, seven more were launched. Similar to what heroin coordinators will be doing, the Safe Streets Initiative utilizes data-sharing, however more so acts as the governing body behind policy. Personnel of the initiative ensure protocol is being followed, and that all agencies involved in justice for violent crimes are coordinated and open with one another.
Among Other Things…
Eighteen heroin coordinators will be employed, covering all regions of the smaller-sized state. Also, nine Safe Streets Initiative locations will receive ample funding to now include “the Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force to devise a plan to address the… growing heroin epidemic across Maryland.”
While large portions will be allocated to funding new positions within both the task force and Maryland law enforcement agencies, a plethora of other helpful things will be funded. These include adding beds to treatment centers on the Eastern shoreline, increased funding to drug-dealer apprehension, a public awareness campaign on addiction, and training law enforcement on how to properly administer anti-overdose medication.
Fighting Crime and Drug Abuse at the Same Time
The Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force will perhaps be the most effective part of Governor Hogan’s initiative. On top of the aforementioned actions being taken to fight the epidemic, the task force implemented Peer Recovery Specialists into every Safe Streets Initiative in the state. (One exists in every major county’s police department, ensuring all regions are covered).
Peer Recovery Specialists will specialize in giving treatment to those arrested who have drug addictions. According to Maryland Governor Hogan’s office, “Peer Recovery Specialists are individuals in recovery from substance abuse or co-occurring mental health disorders that have been trained and certified in specific areas of knowledge and skill sets which allow them to provide effective recovery and support services.”
All those arrested in Maryland deemed by the specialists to have substance abuse problems will receive treatment. “Throughout Maryland, from our smallest town to our biggest city, heroin is destroying lives,” said the governor of an already crime-ridden state. We hope $3 million is enough.