There has likely never been a greater counter-drug law enforcement challenge than the opiod epidemic facing the United States today. These words begin an article authored by Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman emphasizing the crisis at hand and the successful efforts of the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) to combat heroin and opioid deaths in the county.
HOT Program Makes Opioid Crisis Go Cold is featured in the September/October 2018 issue of Sheriff & Deputy magazine. The article highlights the successes in reducing opioid deaths in Loudoun with a multifaceted, interdisciplinary approach.
After the agency saw a marked increase in drug overdoses and overdose deaths in 2015, the LCSO launched the Heroin Operations Team (HOT) to combat the growing national epidemic. In 2017, the LCSO was the only agency in the Washington, DC region to see a decrease in both overdoses and overdose deaths, in comparison to a region where overdose deaths exponentially grew, in some cases, well over 50%.
The overall strategy of HOT included targeting the illegal sale of opioids and prescription drugs, including doctors and pharmacies that might be illegally dispensing these drugs. Prevention efforts were developed by equipping deputies with naloxone, a lifesaving drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Enforcement efforts were further enhanced by targeting distributors with our federal partners, to charge them for causing overdose deaths.
“Law enforcement is a key—and underestimated—component in countering the problem. This is why it is imperative that federal funding for state and local task forces continues,” notes Sheriff Chapman in the article.
Sheriff Chapman also continues to work with local, state and federal partners to reinstate funding for local programs such as drug courts, which offer treatment. As well as an emergency room tracking program that offers a better understanding of the extent of the drug problem in each community.
Residents who are interested in learning more about the HOT Program and local efforts to combat opioids deaths and overdoses are encouraged to read the article at http://www.sheriff.loudoun.gov/HOTprogram.