Orange County sheriff wins state award for responding to county opioid epidemic

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Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood acquired a Dogwood Award in October from Legal professional Common Josh Stein for his efforts in responding to the opioid epidemic in Orange County. 

Blackwood was acknowledged particularly for the Coordinated Opioid Overdose Discount Effort. This program was spearheaded by the Orange County Sheriff’s Workplace, with collaboration from the Legal Justice Useful resource Division, Orange County Emergency Administration Providers, Freedom Home and native police departments. 

Blackwood mentioned the Dogwood is given to individuals who have been concerned in packages or initiatives which have served the complete state or their area people in a selected means.

“COORE is a collaborative initiative designed to create a complete and therapeutic strategy to handle the opioid epidemic and its collateral results to the neighborhood,” Blackwood mentioned.

COORE is designed with a three-pronged strategy, Blackwood mentioned. 

The primary prong is permitting folks to return to the sheriff’s workplace to ask for assist with their dependancy.

Blackwood mentioned the sheriff’s workplace acknowledged early on that opioid dependancy will not be an issue that may be handled by arresting folks. So if somebody walks into the workplace asking for assist, Blackwood connects that individual with a member of the Legal Justice Useful resource Division. 

“One of many philosophies that I’ve tried to embrace is that of a heat handoff,” Blackwood mentioned. “If I inform you to return right here and that I’m going that will help you, I’m not going to direct you to any person else. I’m going to stroll with you.”

Blackwood connects individuals who come into the sheriff’s division with Allison Zirkel, the evaluation specialist on the CJRD. Zirkel, a licensed medical social employee and licensed medical dependancy specialist, helps direct folks towards the remedy they want. 

“It’s actually onerous to navigate our system and not using a little bit of steering,” Zirkel mentioned. “There are quite a lot of completely different eligibility standards for various packages relying on for those who’re actively utilizing or for those who haven’t used substances for a short while however are attempting to keep up your restoration.”

Caitlin Fenhagen, felony justice useful resource director at CJRD, mentioned it’s essential for folks to know that the sheriff’s workplace helps COORE — however when folks are available in for assist, they’re referred to clinicians who’re separate and aside from the workplace. 

“It’ll take time for folks to develop belief that, ‘OK, I can stroll right into a legislation enforcement company and get assist,’ however I feel the extra alternatives we give folks to hunt assist, the higher,” Fenhagen mentioned. 

If there’s a remedy middle that most closely fits the wants of an individual in Orange County, however it’s situated in one other a part of the state or nation, Blackwood mentioned he has reached out to folks locally who’re able to offering the monetary assist wanted.

The second a part of the strategy is responding to calls the place Naloxone, a medicine that may deal with narcotic overdose in an emergency scenario, must be administered to reverse an overdose. 

Blackwood mentioned the Orange County Emergency Providers division added a neighborhood paramedic place. When the neighborhood paramedic responds to an overdose, they offer a flyer with details about COORE. The neighborhood paramedic additionally follows up with these people, as a result of Blackwood mentioned he has discovered that people who find themselves topic to chemical dependency which have an overdose are essentially the most receptive to ask for assist.

The third prong comes from the legislation enforcement side of coping with the opioid disaster, which is following up on the place the medicine are coming from.

Blackwood mentioned quite a lot of the circumstances he’s seen have been from loss of life by distribution. If officers can discover proof of a hyperlink between the sale of a narcotic with the person who overdosed, Blackwood mentioned there is a chance to make an arrest on loss of life by distribution. 

Blackwood mentioned COORE was replicated from different packages in different counties all through the state in different sheriff’s places of work. He mentioned he tries to remind folks that each household may be touched by opioid dependancy. 

“You’ve obtained to essentially assist these folks really feel snug about what they’re doing,” Blackwood mentioned. “They’re usually very apprehensive as a result of the extent of belief will not be there, particularly whenever you’re coping with any person sporting a badge and a gun.”

Blackwood mentioned it advantages the sheriff that folks know the workplace is keen to do this system. 

“It speaks to the dedication that I as a sheriff am making to this county and the those that reside right here that I’m not going to guage you for those who’ve obtained an issue,” Blackwood mentioned. 

@britneycath

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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