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Harford County's heroin coordinator is using numbers to track down drug dealers

Posted at 5:09 PM, Feb 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-07 18:55:30-05

She's been on the job just five weeks, spending most of her days sitting behind a desk, but Caylin Ryden's focus is on the streets.        

"I think it's important that we identify hotspots, we identify trends that we're seeing within the county," she said.

Sadly, one clear trend is how tight heroin's hold is on the area. From 2015 to 2016 the overdose casualty count from the drug doubled, claiming at least 56 lives last year. Already in 2017, eight people have died from heroin overdoses.

RELATED: January sees 9 drug overdose deaths in Cecil County

Every time the sheriff's office is called for a drug case, investigators are gathering vital details. Those end up right on Ryden's desk.

"The data that's coming back from the overdoses I am able to process that, I am able to analyze it, and I am able to give them a finalized report, so all of the time that they're saving doing that analysis themselves they're actually able to be in the field and perusing the investigative side if things and really be out there," Ryden said.

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Ryden and the other heroin coordinators across the state use that knowledge to identify dealers, and drug trafficking organizations. They share information, so there's a clear picture of the paths the deadly opiates take to get to your neighborhood.

"There's people out there that are profiting from that, that are profiting from people's addictions,” said Ryden.  “And that's just sad."

Already, Harford County has some potential targets they're tracking. The goal is to prosecute the people pushing heroin, and get them off the streets, hopefully driving down the number of drug overdoses and deaths. Something Ryden's criminal justice background comes in handy for.

"Knowing what it takes to get the conviction, and knowing the ins and outs of how cases go to trial I think is definitely helping me in understanding the best way to go about my job," Ryden said.

In addition to the Heroin Coordinator Grant Program, Harford County was also one of nine jurisdictions awarded money to connect people struggling with substance abuse to treatment options. Investigators share data with the health department, and within 24 hours of an overdose, someone reaches out to the addict to support them on the road to recovery.

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