NLR police receive grant to form opioid response team

by Grant Lancaster | Today at 3:15 a.m. | Link to Original Article by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette 

The North Little Rock Police Department said it will use grant money to establish a police unit aimed at providing medical and psychological help to victims of drug overdoses and their families.

A $318,421 grant from the Arkansas Opioid Recovery Partnership will enable the department to form the overdose response team by hiring a mental health professional, a peer recovery specialist and a criminal investigator for two years, the department said in a release Tuesday.

The department is the first law enforcement agency in Pulaski County to use money from the partnership to establish an opioid response team, the release states.

The mental health professional and peer recovery specialist will provide counseling for surviving overdose victims on treatment and recovery services or provide grief counseling to the families of those who die by drug overdose. They will conduct follow-ups with surviving victims to keep track of their progress and promote recovery.

The criminal investigator will work with North Little Rock police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s Tactical Drug Division to prosecute suppliers connected to overdoses, the release states.

The Arkansas Opioid Recovery Partnership was created by the Arkansas Municipal League and the Association of Arkansas Counties to distribute money from opioid litigation settlements.

Kirk Lane, who left his role as Arkansas drug director under then-Gov. Asa Hutchinson in July 2022, serves as the director of the group.

In addition to working directly with overdose victims and their families, the response team will partner with local coalitions, schools and religious organizations to educate Arkansans about the dangers of substance abuse, North Little Rock police said in the release.

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