Museum panel discussion kicks off ‘Conversations’ series to discuss relevant topics facing communities today
WASHINGTON —The National Law Enforcement Museum at the Motorola Solutions Foundation Building— the nation’s only museum dedicated to exploring nearly every facet of American law enforcement — Launched its Conversations series on Thursday, November 15, 2018 with a panel discussion entitled ‘Opioids: Communities Fighting Back’ that examined what three cities are doing to combat this national epidemic.
In 2017, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency with more than 300,000 Americans killed from opioid-related overdoses. Communities have been deeply affected by the increase in opioid addictions, from the youngest to oldest residents.
“The opioid crisis is impacting communities across the country, both from the perspective of citizens and families dealing with addiction as well as first responders,” said Museum Executive Director David Brant. “As a Museum, we felt this was an important issue to include in our Conversations series so that we could share some of the solutions communities have implemented in the hopes of helping stem this epidemic.”
NBC4 News 4 Today anchor Aaron Gilchrist, moderated the discussion with Newtown (OH) Police Chief Tom Synan, Quincy (MA) Lieutenant Detective Patrick Glynn, and Director of Opioid Overdose Prevention for the Baltimore City (MD) Health Department Jose Rodriguez.
Mr. Rodriguez described some of the solutions his city has brought forward in efforts to help decrease the number of opioid-related deaths. “We know that saving lives is only part of the solution to addressing addiction. What we really need is long-term, 24/7 access to treatment. The surgeon general came out with a report mentioning that only one in 10 individuals who have a substance use disorder actually has access to treatment,” according to Mr. Rodriguez. “In Baltimore City, we piloted a stabilization center which is a place where an individual who has issues with an alcohol or substance use disorder can come into this stabilization center and receive medical screenings, respite, and referral to treatment.”
Lt. Glynn spoke about the approach taken in Quincy that includes a post-overdose home visit with an outreach worker, a clinician and two plainclothes police officers within 48 hours after responding to an overdose. “We have to heal the family along with the individual because they’ve been living with it for years – the lying, the stealing, and so forth,” shared Lt. Glynn. Since the implementation of the program, the response teams have conducted 350 home visits and have been welcomed into the homes 97 percent of the time. “People were astonished that there were programs out there they could go to as family members,” he said.
Chief Synan shared his involvement with the epidemic which resulted in the formation of the Hamilton County (OH) Heroin Coalition that provides countywide leadership and solutions to address the heroin and opiate epidemic both immediately and in the long-term.
As he realized the magnitude of this complex issue, he recalled thinking, “Why isn’t the mental medical health system responding to this more than law enforcement? We should be that link to give those who are addicted, the long-term care and support they need. The only way I could do that was to design a coalition and have those [healthcare] members there. Their participation does a couple of things: one, we are able to attack [overdoses] from a couple of different angles. Two, it also gives us a powerful voice when we’re trying to get grant money from the state or federal government. It’s not just me as a small-town police chief, it is an entire coalition that is saying ‘you need to come in and help us.’”
Chief Synan also shared a poignant moment when he talked about a call he received from a distraught father who was worried his daughter was close to death due to her addiction. While he knew there was little he could do from a law enforcement perspective, he worked with other agencies to find the young adult and help her. He was so moved, he wrote a poem about the young lady, which the Cincinnati Enquirer used in a moving video.
Mr. Gilchrist ended the discussion with audience members asking questions about the epidemic related to some of their experiences. There was widespread agreement that this Conversation needs to be continued well in the future as more than 70,000 people are dying each year due to heroin and opiate addictions.
Conversations Opioids: Communities Fighting Back, was part of the Museum’s robust programs schedule. All programs are hosted at the National Law Enforcement Museum, located at 444 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001. For more information on upcoming programs and events, please visit LawEnforcementMuseum.org.
– # # # –
About the National Law Enforcement Museum
Authorized by Congress in the year 2000, the 57,000-square-foot National Law Enforcement Museum at the Motorola Solutions Foundation Building is a three-story mostly underground institution located adjacent to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC’s Judiciary Square. The Museum tells the story of American law enforcement by providing visitors a “walk in the shoes” experience along with educational journeys, immersive exhibitions, and insightful programs. The Museum is an initiative of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a [501(c)(3)] organization established in 1984. For more information about the National Law Enforcement Museum, visit LawEnforcementMuseum.org.
Steve Groeninger – National Law Enforcement Museum