Last Thursday at Nassau County Police Headquarters in Mineola, County Executive Laura Curran and Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder held a press conference about a new mobile app that will allow police to track opioid overdose hotspots that happen within the county in real time.
The app that police will be using is called the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program or ODMap for short. It was created by the Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program and doesn’t cost anything to Nassau County.
So how does ODMap work? With one click, overdoses are entered into the system by Level I users who primarily consist of first responders who then use the app to determine whether the incident is fatal or nonfatal and the number of Narcan doses that were administered at the scene. That data is then submitted to a central database and is mapped to an approximate location. After that data is submitted, Level II users who consist of public safety officials and police analysists are alerted through ODMap about an overdose spike that is happening in real time allowing Level II users to mobilize a strategy to combat those spikes.
“As those things come through and start to map, we get to see where there are occurring problems,” explained Ryder. “We’ll get an alert. If there are three to four overdoses in a one- to two-mile radius in a 24 hour period, we’ll get an email on our phone alerting us that we have overdoses. We’ll look at it right away to see if it’s a bad batch and then hold a public service announcement to get it out there if we do have a bad batch of heroin on the street. All of it is bad, but some of it is extreme, especially if it’s mixed with fentanyl.”
Larcenies from autos are one of the highest crimes that Nassau County has which Ryder says is a correlation with the opioid epidemic. So far this year, there have been 180 reports of car break-ins within the county.
“Ninety percent of our larcenies from autos are because people leave their cars unlocked,” said Ryder. “The heroin user will go into a community, jiggle the door handles until he gets a car, go in, steal what he can out of your car and use that money to help his habit.”
Ryder explained that the app will not only help track heroin users but will also help track the actual drug dealers who supply the deadly drug. After the users are arrested, their cooperation with police will give them the dealers. The narcotics team will then follow through with that information, ultimately arresting the dealer.
Since Jan. 1 of this year, Nassau County has already seen 46 nonfatal overdoses and six fatal overdoses. However, those six fatal overdoses can’t be tied to the opioid epidemic just yet until the final results come back from the county’s medical examiner.
ODMap is slowly starting to creep across the metropolitan area as well. In some areas of Suffolk County, police are using ODMap to track hotspots while the NYPD is currently looking to come onboard and join the initiative.
In order to not violate any HIPAA laws, staff at Nassau University Medical Center uses ODMap to only alert police about a suspected heroin overdose and where it came from. The hospital will not disclose any other information to the police about the patient.
At Thursday’s press conference, Curran said she was proud of the initiative that Nassau County Police have taken to combat the opioid epidemic.
“It is a war that we absolutely must win,” said Curran. “And this is a very important advance to win that fight.”