Heroin Task Force

Delaware County leads in the

fight against heroin abuse

Just over a year ago, Delaware County Council and District Attorney Jack Whelan stood on the steps of the Delaware County Medical Examiner’s Office joined by members of the Delaware County Heroin Task Force and Delaware County police chiefs to pledge their support for legislation that would change state law and permit police officers in Pennsylvania to carry and administer nasal naloxone.

Commonly known as Narcan, naloxone is a drug that can reverse an opiate overdose and bring an unresponsive person back to life.

In response to Delaware County’s call to action in March 2014, Gov. Tom Corbett signed David’s Law in September of that year. When the law went into effect on Nov. 29, Delaware County was ready with the purchase of 900 doses of nasal naloxone secured for Delaware County’s police vehicles. Since the law went into effect five months ago, Delaware County police have made 31 saves with naloxone, administered to those suffering from an opioid drug overdose.

Delaware County remains the only county in Pennsylvania to have county-wide implementation of nasal naloxone for law enforcement and has become a model program for the state.

Earlier in the week, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that that Pennsylvania State Police will be equipping its officers with naloxone in the near future and that the proposed 2015-16 budget will include funding for the Department of Human Services to provide naloxone kits to first responders, local drug and alcohol programs, and others across the state.

On Wednesday, April 8, District Attorney Jack Whelan was joined by local police, members of the Heroin Task Force and County Council to update the public on the progress being made by the Heroin Task Force since its formation in 2012.

This public safety initiative comes at a time when a growing number of people are struggling with heroin and prescription drug addiction in Delaware County and across the country. As more people become addicted to prescription painkillers, they turn to cheaper and readily available heroin.

Over the past five years, Delaware County has had nearly 300 heroin related deaths which is more than is lost to car accidents and gun violence.  Last year there were 52 heroin related deaths. Since the start of 2015, there have been 8 heroin-related deaths in Delaware County.

District Attorney Whelan noted that the success of the naloxone initiative along with other efforts to reduce heroin use was made possible through the partnership between law enforcement, the community and coalition members, behavioral health members and educators that is exemplified by the formation of the Delaware County Heroin Task Force.

“In Delaware County we are extremely fortunate to have strong partnerships across many fronts that have allowed us to be more successful in our efforts and a have far-reaching impact. Our task force is comprised of first responders, healthcare professionals, treatment providers, business leaders, non-profit organizations, educators, and even a realtor, Ray McKinney of Century 21. Through the professional relator association, he warns homeowners about the potential theft of medicine cabinets during open houses,” said District Attorney Whelan.

Formed in September 2012, Delaware County Heroin Task Force was created to combat the growing issue of prescription drug and heroin use after county officials saw an alarming rate of deaths in the county. Over the course of three years, the Task Force has launched several initiatives and formed a broader Heroin Task Force Coalition in response to interest from members of the community. That Coalition, which includes parents, health care professionals, educators, service providers and other concerned citizens, supports the objectives of the Task Force and provide grassroots input on the problem of heroin abuse.

Along with the law enforcement component to reduce drug-related crime, Whelan noted the importance of prevention through education and awareness. He said that parents, teachers and community leaders play an important role in educating youth about the dangers of prescription drugs.

He detailed several successful initiatives and announced a Community Day set for April 25 in Rose Tree Park – also aimed at raising awareness.

  • NOPE: Through a partnership with the Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education (NOPE) program, the Task Force has been able to bring education programs to all middle school and high schools. Since inception, NOPE has reached over 15,000 middle and high school students, in addition to 1,000 community members. Sponsored by the District Attorney and Delaware County Council, NOPE’s mission is to diminish the frequency and impact of overdose death through community education, family support and purposeful advocacy.

  • MEDICINE DROP BOXES: Delaware County residents can join in the fight against the heroin epidemic by disposing their unused or expired prescription drugs from their medicine cabinets at any of the 40 permanent medicine drop boxes that are located at police department across the county. Every police department in Delaware County that requested a drug drop box now has one, including one in the lobby of the county Government Center in Media. To date, more than 4,000 pounds of drugs have been collected and destroyed by the Delaware County District Attorney’s Criminal Investigation Division.

  • COMMUNITY DAY: Members of the community are invited to celebrate prevention at Community Day, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 25, at Rose Tree Park, 1671 N. Providence Road, Upper Providence. County Council, the District Attorney and members of the Partners for Success Coalition will provide live entertainment, health and wellness resources, free food and interactive activities for all ages.

Herion Task Force

Delaware County Councilman Michael Culp, a member of the Heroin Task force provided an update on the county-wide medical drop boxes. Recognizing the potential threat of unused prescription drugs to public health and safety, Delaware County Council and the District Attorney installed medicine drop boxes back in October 2013. Working through the Heroin Task Force, they started by installing 11 drop...

Herion Task Force

Council Chairman Mario Civera Jr., Councilman Michael Culp, Ridley Township Police Officer Shawn Magee, District Attorney Delco DA Jack Whelan, Councilman John McBlain and Councilman Dave White.