Mayor Jim Lienhoop during his first State of the City address March 29 shared with the audience his various goals and plans for the city. Included was the rolling out the Heroin Overdose Response Initiative.
It’s a collaboration between the Columbus Police Department and the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, designed to centralize and share drug-related information between the two agencies.
When one agency investigates a drug overdose, it must log the intelligence from the investigation in a centralized database that can be accessed by personnel from both departments. That’s to increase consistency in the way both agencies investigate overdoses and promote intelligence sharing.
Ultimately, the hope is that the shared information helps both agencies increase their effectiveness in the fight against drugs, and the number of drug crimes decrease.
The initiative is a welcome and sensible addition because heroin abuse is a growing and worsening problem locally. About 20 heroin overdoses have occurred in the county this year, including four that resulted in deaths, according to city and county law enforcement records.
Not only does the initiative make sense, but it’s another good step in the local battle against drugs — a problem that isn’t isolated to one department. The initiative has similarity to the Joint Narcotics Task Force, a partnership between city and county law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office launched last year to aggressively target local drug use.
The initiative also comes on the heels of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency saying it has forged a closer working relationship with local law enforcement to aid in drug investigations.
Drug abuse and drug crimes are huge problems that can’t be solved by one law enforcement agency alone. Collaborative efforts between multiple agencies are needed to increase the likelihood of positive results.
We commend Lienhoop and local law enforcement for creating the Heroin Overdose Response Initiative, providing another useful tool for tackling drug abuse head-on.