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Nassau police unveil map to track overdoses amid opioid crisis

Patrick Ryder, acting Nassau police commissioner, speaks as

Patrick Ryder, acting Nassau police commissioner, speaks as he and County Executive Laura Curran announce the county's Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program, or ODMAP, on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, at police headquarters in Mineola. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

The Nassau County Police Department rolled out new real-time overdose mapping technology on Thursday that officials say enables law enforcement to crackdown on the region’s deadly opioid epidemic while reducing robberies and other crimes most often committed by addicts.

The Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program, or ODMAP, can be accessed via mobile device by police medics, firefighters, ambulance personnel as well as police narcotics investigators and supervisors. The first responders can then input the overdose data into the ODMAP app, making the information instantly available to Nassau police intelligence analysts, said acting Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder.

The instantaneous capture of the data allows police to spot trends and overlay the overdose statistics onto the department’s crime mapping system, allowing police to shift resources, Ryder said.

“We’re looking to get a solution to the problem,” Ryder said Thursday during a demonstration of the technology at police headquarters in Mineola. “And by going after this and mapping the hot spots, it will allow us to then focus on the people that need to be arrested — the dealers — and at the same time, get a reduction in our crime in the area.”

Already this year, Nassau has seen 46 nonfatal heroin or opioid overdoses and six fatal overdoses, Ryder said. Last year in Nassau, there were 132 documented fatal opioid overdoses, though a final number is not yet available, pending findings in several cases from the medical examiner’s office.

About 195 people in Nassau succumbed to opioid overdoses in 2016.

County Executive Laura Curran, who has nominated Ryder as Nassau’s permanent police commissioner, subject to legislative approval, called the mapping technology “an important advance” in the battle against opioids.

“Our police department continues to innovate ways to gather information crucial to battling this epidemic,” said Curran, a Democrat. “ . . . ODMAP is a tool that will allow Nassau County to combat the epidemic of addiction in real time. It is a war that we absolutely must win.”

The app was created by the Baltimore/Washington High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, which is run by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, and costs Nassau County nothing, Ryder said.

Testing on the app began in November, Ryder said, and he wants to make it possible to input more detailed information on overdoses victims.

ODMAP prompts first responders through a one-click system to identify whether an overdose is fatal and whether Narcan, the opioid antidote, was administered.

The antidote was used 625 times in Nassau in 2017 — up from 564 in 2016, officials said. So far in 2018, Narcan been administered 41 times.

Ryder said the department wants hospitals to use ODMAP, but some are hesitant over worries they’ll be in violation of health privacy laws.

Ryder said Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow is “on board,” and he plans to lobby other local hospitals to take part.

ODMAP lets police narcotics investigators and top brass receive alerts if there are at least three overdoses in a one- to two-mile radius within a 24-hour period, which could indicate whether a drug dealer sold an especially deadly batch of heroin in the area.

“And then we’ll do a public service announcement to get it out there that we do have a bad batch of heroin on the street,” Ryder said. “All of it is bad, but some of it is extreme, especially if it’s mixed with fentanyl.”

The mapping system could help with the distribution of resources but prevention, education and access to treatment is the real key, said Jeffrey L. Reynolds, president and CEO of Mineola-based Family and Children’s Association, which runs two state-licensed treatment centers in Nassau and a recovery center in Suffolk.

“The real-time map should allow us to better pinpoint clusters and maybe target resources more effectively, but there isn’t a community on Long Island that isn’t being impacted by heroin, Fentanyl and other opioids,” Reynolds said. “ . . . overdoses are preventable and there would be less need for a map if ramped up prevention, access to drug treatment and support for people in recovery [was done] in a way commensurate with the devastation we’ve seen over the course of the last decade.”

A pair of Nassau County legislators applauded the use of the technology.

“We’re seeing people from affluent communities and not affluent communities dying every day,” Arnold Drucker (D-Plainview) said. “And it’s horrible. . . . We have to constantly be innovative in our ideas to combat this problem, and the commissioner is doing a great job in that regard.”

Denise Ford (R-Long Beach) said: “We’ve buried too many of our young people, and this is a scourge on our communities. . . . We need to start looking at every possible way to get ahead of this problem and hopefully eradicate or reduce it, so we’re not going to so many wakes and funerals.”

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