Becky Corbin: Police, not politics, needed to end the opioid crisis

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The opioid crisis facing the United States has many facets. A public health emergency, border security crisis, and urgent public safety concerns rolled into one, ending it once and for all requires an all-deck response from federal, state, and local law enforcement and policymakers. More than enough 110,000 died of drug overdose In the year Reported in 2022 and 70 percent of these due to optometrists, this response could not come soon enough.

Public awareness of the dangers of addiction and strong efforts to curb the use of over-prescribed legal operators are expected to reduce drug overdose deaths. But despite these efforts, it resulted 44 percent decreased Between 2011 and 2020, the number of opioid prescriptions, overdose deaths has increased steadily.

The only plausible explanation for this difference is the increase in illicit synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and its analogs. A A recent study From 2016 to 2021, fentanyl overdose deaths in the U.S. nearly quadrupled, while oxycodone (a commonly prescribed pain reliever) death rate decreased during the study period, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Fentanyl interception by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as a helpful proxy for measuring drug trafficking activity; It increases about ten times In the last five years, it shows the serious level of this problem. Addressing the public safety threats posed by the influx of immigrants, drug traffickers and illegal recreational traffic that the Biden administration has allowed into the country must be a priority.

Now more than ever, we must resource law enforcement agencies to combat the illegal flow of fentanyl in our communities and support quality and affordable treatment programs for people suffering from addiction. Fortunately, a 26 billion dollar settlement Opioid distributors and manufacturers, which was completed in February of last year, provide much-needed financial support to many states and communities across the country.

As a former police commissioner, I cannot imagine the impact such resources will have in this fight. Pennsylvania, for example, is on track to receive more than $1 billion from this settlement alone and is in the process of creating an “opioid trust” that will allocate funding to a number of policy priorities.

City of Philadelphia He plans to invest The funds are targeted towards drug addiction education, treatment, prevention and involvement in communities affected by the problem. A neighbor of Delaware County.Meanwhile, increasing support for drug courts and first responders will expand the use of Naloxone and drug-assisted treatments.

Other counties in Pennsylvania He also plans to spend money on law enforcement activities, such as drug task forces and investigators dedicated to opioid investigations, as well as staffing coroners’ offices to respond more quickly to overdose deaths. All this is done with the intention of bringing more criminal charges against those who take these deadly drugs.

While it’s encouraging to see initiatives like this happening in Pennsylvania, the current issues are bigger than our state. Solving the opioid crisis once and for all will require regional and national collaboration by a variety of private and public organizations. It is unfortunate that some states and localities have chosen to opt out of this opioid settlement and take legal action.

Just two hours from Philadelphia, Baltimore, the county’s other capital, chose to go this route. Washington State, led by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, has taken a similar approach. Such a strategy is flawed because it not only denies the citizens needed to make an immediate impact in this crisis, but also jeopardizes their access.

Instead of settling, Oklahoma took the case all the way to the state Supreme Court and lost in a 5-1 decision, ultimately losing the chance to protect much-needed resources. It wasn’t clear then why Democratic officials in Washington state and Baltimore decided to use the same failed legislative playbook. The desire to gain political prominence by trying to successfully “beat” drug companies in court seems to skew the interests of their populations.

States and municipalities should look to these settlements as models for faster access, rather than engaging in protracted legal battles that prevent people suffering from addiction from accessing medical services and law enforcement agencies without funding to expand their efforts to combat the opioid crisis. Critical resources for new and innovative law enforcement programs. Ending the current opioid crisis for good will require efforts from many different sectors of government and society, but law enforcement will be a key part of the equation. Now is the time to make sure every agency has the resources it needs to get down to business.

Becky Corbin is a former Brandywine Regional Police Commissioner. She was also a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. From 2013-2018 and served on the Health Committee. Her professional background and training is in the field of chemistry.

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