‘#NotEvenOnce’—Opioid Crisis Brings Officers into the Classroom
The deadly opioid crisis has prompted the Manchester Township Police Department to take the fight against addiction directly into high school classrooms with a powerful and effective education program, said Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), who was briefed by Manchester police officers about their #NotEvenOnce program on Wednesday.
“The opioid epidemic has tragically claimed so many lives and ensnared many more in a horrific cycle of addiction,” Smith said. “Chief Lisa D. Parker and her select officers have decided to do something about it, and through this program they are performing life-saving work. We must educate and empower our youth on drug awareness to prevent more opioid addictions. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
The Manchester Police Department started the “#NotEvenOnce” program as an interactive opioid addiction prevention education program to be taught in local high schools to seniors. In the meeting with Rep. Smith, Chief Parker explained that the name of the program comes from a common conversation officers have with addicts—if they had not tried opioids even once, they would not have been addicted.
The program lasts three days:
More than 42,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016, according to the CDC, and according to provisional data for 2017 that number increased to more than 49,000 opioid overdose deaths. Ocean County, NJ saw the second-highest number of drug deaths among New Jersey counties in 2015 and 2016, according to data from the state medical examiner’s office.
“The officers on the street have seen an alarming increase in opioid overdoses and deaths in their community,” Smith said of the Manchester Township Police. “In fact, during our three-hour meeting, one of the officers involved responded to two separate overdoses.”
Smith was impressed with the #NotEvenOnce program, which also uses existing resources at no significant additional cost; he said he felt it could be copied or imitated elsewhere in New Jersey. The program has already taught approximately 400 law enforcement and education professionals throughout New Jersey about how they can implement the program in their own school districts.