UB's Center for Drug Policy and Enforcement Receives $3M Grant for System to Track Drug Overdoses, Drug-Related Cases
March 19, 2019
Contact: Office of Government and Public Affairs
The University of Baltimore's Center for Drug Policy and Enforcement will receive $3 million in funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to enhance the Overdose Mapping Application Program (ODMAP), a national project that provides near real-time drug overdose data to support public health and safety efforts in the mobilization of an immediate response.
The system is designed to alert public health and safety partners to spikes in overdoses across the country, in order to better respond and save lives. The system allows law enforcement partners to share information related to trafficking patterns and effectively disrupt complex drug trafficking organizations internationally. ODMAP also provides EMS and other first responders with the information necessary to mobilize response efforts, while providing public- and behavioral-health partners with data to focus on intervention and treatment activities and support the needs of families dealing with substance use disorder.
According to Jeff Beeson, deputy director of the Center for Drug Policy and Enforcement (CDPE), ODMAP is an effective tool for combating the nation’s ongoing opioid addiction crisis. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 130 Americans die every day from opioid-related overdoses, while well over 10 million are misusing prescription painkillers. Communities all across the nation routinely witness fatalities from these drugs, while police devote more and more resources to shutting down and prosecuting those who are illegally manufacturing opioids, or procuring legitimately-produced drugs in an illegal way.
"What we have now, on an industrial scale, is an attempt to establish an opioid culture of addiction, death and criminal activity," Beeson says. "In terms of intent it's not really all that different from past drug crises, such as the crack epidemic in the 1980s and methamphetamines earlier in this century. It's always about maximizing profits and protecting a criminal enterprise. But with opioids, the numbers are strikingly high, and the depth of the addiction is, arguably, deeper and more far-ranging, socially and economically. We are fighting back, and we believe these tools are absolutely crucial in the battle."
The ODMAP system was piloted in three counties within the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (W/B HIDTA), a federal grant program administered by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy that provides resources to assist law enforcement activities related to drug trafficking in specifically designated areas of the country—in January 2017. A little more than a year later, the agency introduced the system on a nationwide basis. Today it is active in 46 states, with more than 1,600 participating federal, state, and local law enforcement and public health entities. Data on more than 90,000 overdoses have been entered nationally.
The ODMAP system "has grown exponentially within a very short period, but insufficient resources have hampered system expansion," the BJA stated in announcing the grant to the CDPE. "The rollout has been on a county-by-county basis, and in order to meet the demand at the local level and bring the program to scale nationally, a significant investment in resources within the W/B HIDTA is required."
Beeson says the $3 million grant will be used by the CDPE to train new users on the system, and encourage broader integration models for states and localities.
"These funds will enable us to scale the Application Program Interface that we developed to connect native record management systems to ODMAP," he says. "This model will allow seamless data contribution and give local government the necessary data to better protect their communities."
Learn more about the Center for Drug Policy and Enforcement, part of the University of Baltimore's College of Public Affairs.
Learn more about ODMAP.
Learn more about the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
The University of Baltimore is a member of the University System of Maryland and comprises the College of Public Affairs, the Merrick School of Business, the UB School of Law and the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences.