Bethlehem Press

Monday, December 11, 2017

Lehigh Co. gets grant to aid in opioid fight

Tuesday, December 5, 2017 by The Press in Local News

District Attorney Jim Martin announced recently Lehigh County Regional Intelligence and Investigation Center (RIIC) has received a grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) in the amount of $148,050.00. The funds will be used to create an Illicit Drug Identification and Tracking System.

In announcing the grant, Martin stressed the problem with illicit drugs and some prescription medications, specifically heroin and opioids, is having a catastrophic effect not only on citizens of Lehigh County but also on the people of our commonwealth and nation. The Center for Disease Control cited over 50,000 drug-related deaths in the United States in 2015. The Pennsylvania State Coroners’ Association reported 3,505 such deaths in Pennsylvania for the same year.

While the heroin and opioid problem is a grave concern, Martin pointed out there are other drugs that also have had deleterious effects on our population, such as synthetic marijuana and methamphetamines. Therefore, the grant application requested assistance in battling illicit drugs versus simply opioids and heroin.

In addition, the software will help track illicit drugs and information on identifiable markings, such as heroin stamps, heroin brands and synthetic drug compounds. Toxicology reports from the coroner’s office will be included in the database. Drug-related deaths and demographics of the decedents, such as occupation, age, sex, race, residence, location of death and education, will be identified as well.

The Illicit Drug Identification and Tracking System will not only be a tool for law enforcement. The data it generates will show social implications to assist drug, alcohol and mental health treatment communities. While only law enforcement can access the system, reporting from it can show trends, which may be shared.