The first regional summit for the Maryland Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force was held Tuesday in Cecil County. Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford and members of the task force heard testimony from elected officials and residents from Cecil, Harford, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties on the challenges, success and unresolved needs concerning heroin in the state. As reported in The Cecil Whig:
[Cecil County Executive Tari] Moore discussed the systemic program her administration has developed to address the issue, which includes creating a local overdose fatality review team, distributing overdose-reversing medications, funding peer recovery advocates, promoting recovery through a partnership with the Cecil Whig, and increasing communication and resources for law enforcement officers fighting the drug trade.
“Funding continues to be a clear barrier to allowing our community to offer a comprehensive program that includes what we need,” she told the task force. “We hope the state will be strong in its commitments to local health departments to fight this crisis.”
Harris Murphy, the recently elected Kent County State’s Attorney, said the impact of heroin on his small community has been dramatic.
“There’s been a dramatic shift in the number of heroin cases in Kent County,” he said. “Ten years ago, they were very rare, almost anomalies. Today, they probably comprise the majority of the illegal drug activity … In 2013-14, looking at just circuit court criminal cases, heroin cases comprised almost 20 percent. Anecdotally, on Thursday, half of our district court docket is heroin-related.”
Queen Anne’s Sheriff Gary Hofmann shared a story with the task force about the difficult decisions many Maryland families are forced to make when dealing with addiction. A distraught father came to the sheriff’s office to address his son’s addiction after his son stole $50,000 worth of family assets to support his drug habit. After recovery attempts were unsuccessful, the father asked Hofmann what he should do.
“I advised him to take the path of criminally charging his son and getting him into the system,” Hofmann said. “The father reluctantly told me he wouldn’t do that, because he didn’t want his son to have a record due to a temporary dependency. I looked at him and told him that if he didn’t take aggressive action quickly, he would be purchasing this child a headstone.”
Additional regional summits will be held on the Eastern Shore, in Southern, Western and Central Maryland, as well as in the D.C. Region.
In related news, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with the County Health Department and Office of Drug Control Policy to supply deputies with resource cards containing information on how to reach out for help and services that can be given to community members who are, or know someone suffering from addiction:
The Harford County Sheriff’s Office will also work closely with the Health Department, to provide contact information for appropriate follow-up assistance. Community relationships are key and the Harford County Sheriff’s Office is glad to partner with the ODCP and Harford County Health Department to break down barriers to treatment. “I am glad that my administration was able to fund this vital resource and I look forward to working with the sheriff’s office as we combat this scourge affecting so many Harford County families,” said Harford County Executive Barry Glassman.
For more information:
Full article in the The Cecil Whig
Harford County Sheriff’s Office News Release
Previous coverage on Conduit Street