Lawmakers, Law Enforcement Highlight Overdose Mapping System

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) — As the overdose crisis continues to impact families and communities across the country, some lawmakers in Harrisburg are looking to build upon efforts to fight the epidemic. Legislation that requires the mapping of overdoses across the Commonwealth was signed into law last year.

Tuesday, lawmakers and law enforcement discussed the impact and why they say it’s important to stop being “reactive” to the ongoing crisis.

“It always seems like we’re on defense. We’re always reacting. We’ve got to get ahead of these problems. I’m tired of reacting and hearing of losses like Tyler in Chambersburg. Why can’t we get ahead of it,” said state Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Adams/Franklin).

Senate Bill 1152, now Act 158 of 2022, was sponsored by Mastriano and signed into law by Governor Wolf in 2022.

“This new law requires law enforcement officers to input data into a statewide overdose information system within 72 hours after encountering a known or suspected overdose,” said Mastriano.

Mastriano says, Act 158, which went into effect in January, was designed with one purpose.

“It saves lives,” said Mastriano. “We have a disaster on our hands here and so little has been done. In fact, heroin and opioid overdose are now the leading cause of accidental death here in Pennsylvania,” he added.

Law enforcement say mapping is providing a clearer picture of drug trends across the commonwealth.

“Fentanyl clearly is the number one killer, and now we have the xylazine that’s adding to the issues,” said Jerry Daley, Executive Director of the Liberty mid-Atlantic High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).

Daley says the mapping helps local officials identify emerging trends, mobilize an emergency response and alert first responders to the existence of fentanyl-laced drugs in a specific region.

“What we hope to come from improved mapping and awareness is being able to engage organizations, whether they’re government entities, law enforcement agencies, public health agencies or non-governmental organizations like outreach programs, and get them where the need is greater so that we can reach more people, divert them into treatment and get them off of these substances,” said Daley.


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