Drug team to track overdose ‘hot spots’ with new app

Southwest Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A drug enforcement team that covers nine southwest Michigan counties will start using a mapping app to track overdoses in real time.

“If we know in real-time that there are people dying from overdoses right now in this city block, we can move law enforcement resources to that area,” said Michigan State Police First Lt. Richard Pazder, head of the Southwest Enforcement Team (SWET), which covers Barry, Van Buren, Kalamazoo and Calhoun counties, among others.

“We can address that problem immediately, try to take the drug dealer off the streets, get those lethal drugs off the streets,” Pazder said.

The app, called ODMAP, is free to law enforcement and was developed in the Baltimore-area, though a federal program with funds from the national Office of Drug Control Policy.

“ODMAP is a real-time online tool that law enforcement officers can use to not only record and log the overdoses that happen, but to also get weekly reports and (automatic alerts) on any spikes that might happen in overdose deaths in the area,” Pazder said.

“It’s a tool for law enforcement to come together and take an all-hands-on-deck approach in real time while the problem is happening to help solve it,” Pazder said.

Pazder, who’s headed SWET for three and a half years, said police could use many tools to address hotspots, including increasing a visible law enforcement presence in the area in question, fast-tracking undercover investigations already in the works, and even just talking to residents, asking questions and notifying residents of the spike in overdoses.

“ODMAP is a fairly new thing in Michigan,” Pazder said, though he said counties on the state’s east-side have been using the app. “If an officer responds to the scene of an overdose, he just brings up ODMAP on his phone or his iPad or whatever he has at the time.”

For now, only police agencies are using the app in West Michigan, but Pazder hopes first responders, EMTs and hospitals will get on board as well.

According to ODMAP’s website, police agencies in five West Michigan counties already use the app, including Ottawa, Muskegon, Van Buren, Kalamazoo and Calhoun.

“It just asks two simple questions: was this a fatal or non-fatal overdose and was (the O.D. reversal) drug Naloxone administered or not?,” Pazder said.

Kent County, however, is not currently using ODMAP.

“We feel that tracking overdose statistics is crucially important to the welfare of residents,” said Sgt. Joel Roon of the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.

But Roon said doing so through ODMAP would be redundant because Kent County already tracks overdoses very closely through the Kent Area Narcotics Enforcement Team.

KANET, housed at the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, is a multi-agency drug team, comprised of representatives from each of the county’s police departments.

“The (ODMAP) program is valuable,” Roon said. “We are just choosing a different route for our tracking. Here is a constant line of communication between KANET, the vice team at the Grand Rapids Police Department, and the rest of the police agencies in the county.”

Roon said KCSD’s criminal analyst was inputting data to the ODMAP app eight to 12 months ago, but found – at that point – that agencies were not logging onto it and looking at the data.

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