NE law enforcement officials share strategies for harm reduction at GCC summit

Staff Writer
Published: 5/9/2019 11:15:21 PM
Modified: 5/9/2019 11:15:11 PM

GREENFIELD — David Lanoie ​​​​​​, the longtime superintendent of the Franklin County House of Correction, saw a need to bring together law enforcement officials from across New England to tackle what he sees as one of the most pressing social problems in a century. 

These law enforcement officials came together Thursday to speak about the opioid epidemic, and not so much the policing of it, but rather harm reduction methods to best address some of the routes of the crisis. 

“This is the good that comes out of very trying and traumatic circumstances that are killing our citizens,” Lanoie said. 

Along with law enforcement officials and advocates in the recovery community, over a hundred people came to Greenfield Community College to swap strategies to best tackle the latest issues plaguing communities faced with the opioid crisis. 

“The more information we share, the more collaboration we do, the more lives we can save,” Lanoie said. 

Law enforcement officials from Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts shared different data collection methods that have helped them better know where to deploy its resources. It’s also a way to figure out which community resources and advocates can be brought into the fold, so they can better link people to different sources of recovery. 

“There’s a lot of good research going on and programs happening,” Greenfield Police Deputy Chief Mark Williams said after the event. “They all provide a good model for us as we look to develop our own version in Greenfield.” 

Williams said it was encouraging and inspiring to hear what other communities are doing, but it also reminded him of the work that Greenfield and the Pioneer Valley have been doing for years to try reducing the harm of the opioid epidemic. 

Debra McLaughlin, the coordinator of the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin region, noted the event’s ambition. 

She said the task force hopes to explore at least one of the models displayed at the event to increase its internal data. It was useful for her to hear how other communities find ways to share information between recovery and law enforcement communities without violating the rights of the people. 

Some communities, particularly those in New Hampshire and Vermont, warned of the rise in meth, crack and cocaine that have coupled with the opioid epidemic.

For local officials at the event, it was also meaningful to have everyone come to Greenfield. 

“It sends a good message to our other partners and throughout New England that we’re a valuable and willing partner in these events and we care about the well being of all of our citizens as well,” Smith said. 

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264




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