2022 Law Enforcement Drug Response Summit Archive

2022 Law Enforcement Drug Response Summit Archive


This Arnold Ventures-supported study aimed to develop a better understanding of law enforcement drug response programs in the United States. As a part of that project, the study team fielded the 2021 National Law Enforcement Drug Response Survey, to which nearly 2,000 law enforcement agencies across the country responded. The Law Enforcement Drug Response Summit was a final deliverable to present the national study findings and showcase law enforcement leadership from around the country who shared their drug response strategies and perspectives. This webinar was supported by Arnold Ventures and hosted by RTI International and the Police Executive Research Forum on February 9, 2022. It is archived and made available on-demand by the NIJ’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence.

This event originally occurred on February 9th, 2022

Panel 1

Reimagining Crisis Response — Considerations for Co-Response Models in Today’s Environment


    • Jeremy Barnum, Senior Principal, Center for Applied Research, Police Executive Forum
    • Bradley Ray, PhD, Senior Research Sociologist, Center for Policing Research and Investigative Science, RTI International
    • Deputy Chief Catherine Cummings, Training, Policy and Oversight Division Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, IN
    • Detective Tracey Lomax, Behavioral Health Unit, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, IN


In response to the opioid epidemic and increased behavioral health-related calls for service, many law enforcement agencies have partnered with health professionals, social workers, and/or Fire/EMS to launch programs designed to provide a coordinated response. This panel will highlight selected and established co-response programs. National survey findings show common features across these types of co-response programs, including core law enforcement partnerships, information sharing practices across jurisdictions, and policies and procedures. The panel features Dr. Brad Ray of RTI International and Deputy Chief Catherine Cummings, who collaborated on an evaluation of a co-response behavioral health program implemented by the Indianapolis Metro Police Department.

Detailed Learning Objectives:

  1. Attendees will be able to describe the national statistics on law enforcement overdose tracking, overdose follow up prevalence and practices, and the types of organizations with which agencies are partnering for these services.
  2. Attendees will be able to describe how one large metropolitan police department saw a need for a behavioral health co-response unit and implemented an alternative response called the Mobile Crisis Assistance Team (MCAT).
  3. Attendees will be able to describe how the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was able to implement and evaluate the efficacy of the MCAT program in a randomized control trial

Panel 2

Law Enforcement Naloxone Policies and Practices


    • Peter Davidson, PhD, University of California-San Diego
    • Karl Sporer, EMS medical director for Alameda County, CA
    • Deputy Chief John Thompson, Greensboro Police Department (NC)
    • Ron Martin, Retired Detective Sergeant, North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition


Law enforcement naloxone programs expand far beyond the simple act of a police officer administering naloxone to an individual who overdoses. This panel will show how law enforcement naloxone programs vary across several factors, including on scene pre- and post-naloxone administration standard operating procedures; officer training requirements; and other procedural, policy, and programmatic differences. These national findings will be put into context by law enforcement and by those who specialize in overdose response to begin identifying best practices in law enforcement naloxone programs. This panel features Dr. Peter Davidson of the University of California-San Diego, an expert in naloxone, overdose, and police response; Dr. Karl Sporer, EMS Director in Alameda County, California; and Mr. Ron Martin, former police Sergeant of the NYPD who is currently the law enforcement liaison with the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition.

Detailed Learning Objectives:

  1. Attendees will be able to summarize the national statistics concerning law enforcement naloxone programs, including on scene standard operating procedures, officer training requirements, and procedural and policy differences across programs.
  2. Attendees will be able to describe how partnerships with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) can bolster law enforcement drug response practices, including naloxone programs.
  3. Attendees will gain an understanding of how law enforcement agencies can work with harm reduction organizations to build out a stronger overdose response.

Panel 3

Dismantling Fentanyl-Related Myths and Misinformation   


    • Peyton Attaway, Research Analyst, Center for Policing Research and Investigative Science, RTI International
    • Melissia Larson, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Coordinator, North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition
    • Justin Brower, Toxicologist, North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
    • Brandon del Pozo, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Miriam Hospital/Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and former Police Chief of the Burlington Police Department (Vermont)


Toxicologists and medical professionals have determined that the risk of overdose from dermal fentanyl exposure is low for law enforcement. However, many law enforcement agencies have invested substantial funding in protective gear while officers mistakenly worry about the occupational hazards involved in responding to scenes involving drugs like fentanyl. During the webinar, RTI International public health analyst Peyton Attaway shared recent law enforcement survey findings quantifying the concern that police leadership have for dermal fentanyl exposure among their sworn officers, along with statistics showing how many have died from dermal fentanyl exposure (0%) and how many agencies have purchased special PPE to handle fentanyl (57%). Dr. Justin Brower, a toxicologist in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina, provided an overview of why the science does not support dermal fentanyl exposure causing an overdose. Melissia Larson of the North Carolina Harm Reduction provided an overview of the symptoms of an overdose and pointed out why this myth is harmful to police and to people who use drugs. Former Burlington Vermont police chief Dr. Brandon del Pozo discusses how this harmful myth was propagated and talks about the path forward for how to disseminate information to law enforcement to drive evidence-based policy and practice.

Detailed Learning Objectives:

  1. Attendees will be able to describe national data from the 2021 Law Enforcement Drug Response Survey that shows concerns about fentanyl exposure among law enforcement agencies, how many agencies have purchased specialized protective equipment, and how many responding agencies have had officers report occupational fentanyl exposure.
  2. Attendees will understand why the propagation of fentanyl misinformation is harmful to officers, their agencies, and the communities they serve as well as how it could potentially be corrected through training.
  3. Attendees will be able to describe why touching fentanyl or its analogs will not lead to overdose.


Funding for this collaborative International Association of Coroners & Medical Examiners and Forensic Technology Center of Excellence event was provided by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this event are those of the presenter(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice or the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators.

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