Mahoning County to receive funding for overdose team

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Local and state law enforcement officials are working to come up with innovative ways to battle the opioid crisis that is gripping much of the state. Here in the Mahoning Valley, a program at the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office — as well as two other local departments — is getting funding for a new approach in the battle.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Wednesday that 40 law enforcement departments and their partners will receive $3 million in grants that will be used to help replicate or expand Drug Abuse Response Teams (DARTs) and Quick Response Teams (QRTs) to address the opioid epidemic in Ohio.

In addition to Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, the two other police departments that got funding from this grant were Newton Falls and East Liverpool, each receiving $50,000.

A QRT is what Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene has put together to service Mahoning County. Greene’s team will get $150,000 of that $3 million. They’ll utilize a “quick response team” that can better aid their efforts.

“Basically, what it is is someone is reaching out to the individual to intervene with them, to try and break the cycle, to give them options,” Greene said. “Because if we don’t do anything, no one will.”

“The commissioners were very proud to have supported this grant,” said Anthony Traficanti, Mahoning County Commissioner. “Because this is the best thing we can do as a local community — try to nip this.”

Many grant recipients included other partners, such as fire department personnel, emergency management employees, faith-based leaders, and children’s services organizations.

“There is so much good work going on to fight this opioid epidemic and with this new grant money, we can make even more of a difference, as we all work together to save more Ohioans,” DeWine said. “This opioid fight is challenging, but we can continue to make progress.”

In August, Sheriff Greene applied for the grant.

Once setup, the intervention program will send deputies — as well as drug recovery and mental health experts — in to meet with addicts and their families within a day or two of an overdose.

“We’re working close with Mercy Health and right now we have recovery coaches there,” said Duane Piccirilli, executive director of Mahoning County Mental Health & Recovery board. “So when people present at the emergency room, we get put out agencies into gear and start working with the agencies.”

“We’re just hoping that this makes a difference,” Greene said. “Not that it will, but we’re pretty confident in this one — at least I am — and I think there’ll be people thanking us.”

DART and QRT teams generally are made up of law enforcement officers partnering with drug treatment providers and others who assist overdose survivors in the recovery process.  Team members visit survivors after an overdose and offer counseling and referrals to drug rehabilitation facilities for assessment, detoxification, on-going drug treatment, and aftercare.

Grant recipients are expected to start using the grant money for law enforcement teams before the end of the year.