Portland police using overdose maps to respond to opioid epidemic

WMTW 8 News –

Maps document every overdose officers respond to

Deaths from drug overdoses in Maine went up 4% last year compared to 2018. The most deaths were in Cumberland County. Portland police are using a new software program track the opioid epidemic in the city.

Chief Frank Clark says the overdose map program gives the department real-time situational awareness.

It shows “where overdoses are occurring, whether or not there is a spike in overdose in particular area or region.” Clark says.

First responders enter information into a secure government database, which is updated every hour. The maps features overdose locations, ages, and genders of victims, and names are kept anonymous.

So far this year, the Portland map shows at least 22 overdoses, at least 3 fatal, but 12 lives saved with Narcan, the overdose-reversing nasal spray carried by every Portland police officer.

“The thing with substance use disorders is there are no barriers in terms of ages or demographics or times of day or where you live or what you do. It impacts everybody,” says Clark

The department’s use of overdose maps comes at a time when more than 300 Mainers are dying from drug overdoses every year, the vast majority of them from at least one opioid.

The maps are organized by all four of the city’s ZIP codes and give Portland police what Clark calls a 5,000-foot view of the problem.

Last month, his department tracked 10 opioid overdoses in one week in Cumberland County that were caused by tainted, illicit drugs.

“Law enforcement was able to kind of collaborate and put some cases together and put some information together that ultimately ended up leading to some searches and an arrest.” Clark said. Arrests are just one purpose of overdose maps. The other is saving lives.

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