06 Dec 2017

Opioid Technology Summit

From December 4th to December 5th, the IJIS Institute hosted The Opioid Technology Summit: Leveraging Technology to Address the Opioid Epidemic with partners that included the Center on Policing, the National narcotics Officers Association, the Police Foundation, and the National Fusion Center Association.  Its purpose was “to provide an opportunity for government practitioners and industry experts to work together in exploring the intersection of public safety and public health, and how these diverse areas can come together to explore technology solutions addressing the opioid crisis.”

The opening keynote was given by Shelly Lowe, who shared her personal and heartbreaking experience of losing her own son to opioid addiction.  Ms. Lowe also serves as a New Jersey State Police (NJSP) Program Development Specialist.  The summit also featured several panels where retired Superintendent of the NJSP, Colonel Joseph R. Fuentes, spoke about his experience in law enforcement with opioids on panels titled “Setting the Stage: Perspectives from Public Health, Public Safety, and Human Services” and “Narcotics Officers Perspective.”  Both Colonel Fuentes and Ms. Lowe were our featured lecturers in our September Distinguished Lecture Series.

Thomas J. O’Reilly, Executive Policy Adivsor at the COP, moderated a panel titled “Public Safety–Public Health Success Stories” and “The Nexus Between International Cartels, Opioids, and Illegal Immigrants.” During panel discussion, Linda Tartaglia, Director of the COP, shared a case study conducted on an information sharing initiative from Utah’s Statewide Information and Analysis Center (SIAC) that involved immigration and drug and human trafficking.  This case study provides an example of how information sharing is essential to public safety, especially in regards to the opioid crisis.  It also illustrates the limitations of and the need for information sharing to happen at a national level.

Discussions that took place at the summit revolved around the concept of “Let’s not only keep talking, but also find ways to collaborate and overcome the policy and legislative challenges and demonstrate real progress. People are dying every day from opioid abuse, so we need to find ways to collaborate and take a multi-disciplinary approach and leverage technology to solve the problem” and involved perspectives from narcotics officers, federal government, public health, and technology sectors.  Examples of key discussion points include:

  • Using the Fusion Center Network to engage public health and other related areas
  • Developing data standards and using the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) data
  • Reviewing the National Response Framework to see how disaster response can transfer to opioid crisis response
  • Developing a model policy
  • Highlighting to legislatures the special conditional language needed for all types of funding for the opioid crisis and coordinating/standardizing messaging to legislators between public safety, public health, and others fighting the crisis
  • Coordinating between public safety and public health to ensure a more balanced approach between law enforcement, treatment, and early prevention
  • Using terrorism related Information Sharing Environment (ISE) concepts to enhance the opioid related information sharing efforts

Last year, the opioid crisi was declared a national health emergency affecting communities all over the United States.  The opioid epidemic continues to overwhelm the resources of professionals in both public safety and public health.  The challenges which the epidemic imposes must be fought together by professionals in both arenas working together.  Technology can help address many of these challenges by providing ways for them to collaborate including information sharing, analyzing data, and coordinating response efforts.  The COP will continue to participate in events like the Summit to share what it has learned through its research, and also in order to gain other perspectives in an effort to help find solutions to the challenges faced from this national emergency.

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