Ky. to share in $2.5 million anti-heroin grant that will pair law enforcement and public health to put more focus on treatment

Kentucky will be among several states to share a $2.5 million federal grant to help fight the heroin epidemic in its communities, according to press release from the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Heroin overdoses killed 233 Kentuckians in 2014 and 230 in 2013. Kentucky had only 22 deaths attributed to heroin in 2011, according to the state’s 2014 Overdose Fatality Report.

The $2.5 million will fund the Heroin Response Strategy, a new initiative that creates a partnership among five regional “high intensity drug trafficking areas,” which includes Appalachia, New England and the Washington/Baltimore; New York/New Jersey and Philadelphia metropolitan areas.

The focus of the new program is on treatment, rather than punishment, of addicts.

“It’s something different, pairing law enforcement and public health,” Van Ingram, Kentucky’s director of drug policy, told The Courier-Journal. “Just arresting and releasing people is not working real well.”

The grant will fund sharing of intelligence, analysis of trends, training of law enforcement and strengthening of partnerships between public-health and public-safety agencies. It will also support the expansion of a Drug Intelligence Officer Network in 15 states, education and training for public-safety first responders, and conferences related to public health and public safety.

In addition to the grant, the Appalachia HIDTA will receive nearly $400,000 to be used for programs to help prevent drug abuse in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Virginia, says the release.

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