Harford County continues fighting heroin epidemic, teams up with Upper Chesapeake Heath System

Posted at 1:39 PM, Oct 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-13 18:27:37-04

The Harford County Sheriff's Office and the Upper Chesapeake Health System are teaming up to provide information on overdose victims admitted to the hospital to help authorities track drug deals.

Both parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Thursday, that will allow the partnership to continue for five years.

The hospital will provide the date an overdose victim comes into the hospital, the sex, race, age, city they live in and what drug caused the overdose.

By not providing the person's name or any distinguishable information, both the hospital and sheriff's office skirt HIPPA and privacy laws. 

"I believe that this is the first of its kind in the state," Sheriff Jeff Gahler said this will allow authorities to geographically map where heroin overdoses are happening in the county.

"If we see a pattern, certainly if we see a pattern of death, our numbers continue to increase there, we can trace it back to one dealer, that's where we're going to concentrate our efforts," Sheriff Gahler said.

Baltimore is considered to be the Heroin Capitol of the U.S., and Sheriff Gahler said in the past that's where the drugs are coming from, causing problems in his county.

That's what started the HOPE group back in 2015, which added narcotics detectives to overdose investigations to help track heroin suppliers.

The new MOU is part of the same program.

In 2016, there have been 212 overdoses and 35 deaths to date. That is more than the 201 overdoses and 29 deaths in 2015.

The program started October 1, 2016 and will run through September 31, 2016. The memorandum then has the opportunity to be extended another five years, if both parties agree.