Smart­phone app to com­bat opi­oid cri­sis

Law en­force­ment of­fi­cers and first re­spon­ders will use it to see where over­doses are oc­cur­ring

Tulsa World - - Metro&region - By Randy El­lis

The Ok­la­homa Bureau of Nar­cotics and Dan­ger­ous Drugs Con­trol has hired 10 new agents who are be­ing de­ployed through­out the state to in­ves­ti­gate opi­oid diver­sions, Di­rec­tor John Scully an­nounced Fri­day.

The agency also is rolling out a new smart­phone app called ODMAP that will al­low law en­force­ment agents and first re­spon­ders to track both fa­tal and non­fa­tal drug over­doses in real time, he said.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Mike Hunter praised both ini­tia­tives.

“We're go­ing to in­ves­ti­gate pill mills and shut them down,” Hunter said. “The real-time data that ODMAPing pro­vides al­lows for an im­me­di­ate re­sponse tar­get­ing hot-spot ar­eas and shut­ting down crim­i­nal drug deal­ers.”

At a news con­fer­ence, Hunter and Scully talked about the dev­as­tat­ing im­pact opi­oid abuse has had on Ok­la­homa fam­i­lies, with Hunter call­ing it a “mod­ern-day plague” that has “cre­ated a gen­er­a­tion of ad­dicts and a swath of de­struc­tion.”

Scully said state ef­forts to com­bat opi­oid and other drug abuse are hav­ing an im­pact but that more needs to be done.

He pointed to charts that show na­tional drug overdose deaths have been ris­ing ev­ery year, go­ing from 43,982 in 2013 to 72,306 in 2017. Mean­while, state overdose deaths dropped to 796 in 2017 af­ter in­creas­ing steadily from 779 in 2013 to 899 in 2016.

Na­tion­ally, pre­scrip­tion opi­oid deaths have in­creased ev­ery year, go­ing from 14,145 in 2013 to 17,087 in 2016, while Ok­la­homa opi­oid deaths have been on the de­cline, go­ing from 509 in 2013 to 316 in 2017.

Roll­out of the ODMAP smart­phone app is an ef­fort to de­crease all types of fa­tal and non­fa­tal drug over­doses even fur­ther, of­fi­cials said.

The app cur­rently is in use by eight Ok­la­homa agen­cies in Custer, Garvin and LeFlore coun­ties, and the goal is to have the tech­nol­ogy avail­able through­out the state by next sum­mer, of­fi­cials said.

The app is free to law en­force­ment of­fi­cers and first re­spon­ders but not avail­able to

less with race and more with eco­nomic dis­par­ity.

In or­der to rid the de­part­ment of the per­cep­tion that of­fi­cers write traf­fic ci­ta­tions to col­lect rev­enue for the city, Carter in­structed of­fi­cers to write fewer tick­ets and in­stead — when ap­pro­pri­ate — give writ­ten and ver­bal warn­ings.

Other items in the plan de­signed to re­duce dis­pro­por­tion­ate pun­ish­ment for the city's low-in­come pop­u­la­tion in­clude a 72-hour limit on jail time for those who can't af­ford to make bail for mu­nic­i­pal of­fenses.

Other man­dates in­clude an­tib­ias train­ing, an agree­ment with the Ok­la­homa State Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion to in­ves­ti­gate fa­tal uses of force in the city and a pro­gram called “Food for Fines,” where those with out­stand­ing war­rants can ex­change canned foods for credit to­ward their fines.

Sand Springs po­lice sub­mit­ted their ap­pli­ca­tion months be­fore the dead­line and “kind of for­got” about it un­til they were told they were to re­ceive the award, Carter said. The in­ten­tion was less to win and more to share with law en­force­ment com­mu­ni­ties what Carter says works for them.

“It's re­ally to al­low the pub­lic and us to work in part­ner­ship to see where we want to go and what's im­por­tant to the com­mu­nity,” Carter said.

The evolv­ing doc­u­ment is meant to “match (the com­mu­nity's) ex­pec­ta­tions of us,” he said. Carter said in its next re­vi­sion, the polic­ing plan will in­clude se­cu­rity and safety pro­to­cols specif­i­cally for the city's schools.

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