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OPD Comprehensive Opioid Victim Advocacy and Enforcement Program

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $685,458)

With its central location in the heart of Central Florida, close to highways, airports, and ports, and its transient tourist population, Orlando has become a key location for drug use and trafficking throughout the United States. Since 2019, 169 overdoses have been reported in Orlando; but there are only six investigators permanently assigned to the Orlando Police Department (OPD) Overdose Investigative Unit. The Unit is overloaded with cases and clearly understaffed. The goals of the OPD Comprehensive Opioid Victim Advocacy and Enforcement Program include strengthening OPD’s overdose response efforts to both victims and families and freeing up investigators to close more of their 65 currently open cases. This will be done by hiring two Victim Advocates who will focus on providing more in-depth victim services for survivors and families of overdose victims through embedded social services. The project will also increase investigator capacity to investigate overdoses by lessening the burden on investigators to follow up with families. A second goal of the project will be to create safer communities by eliminating opioids and other illegal substances. To help facilitate this goal, we will purchase one night vision device with mount to facilitate agents’ ability to conduct surveillance in low-light environments. We will also utilize funds to purchase two covert streetlight cameras to be placed in locations with high drug traffic activity. The covert cameras will be used to gather information on suspects and acquire probable cause for search warrants where drugs are being sold. It is anticipated that the footage captured on these cameras will help facilitate suspect identification and prosecutorial success while taking deadly drugs off the streets and helping save lives. We also request funding to purchase two high-powered computers to run a software product called Cellebrite Reader. Overdose investigations into opioid-related overdose deaths and the successful identification of the primary and additional suspects responsible often lead to collecting a suspect’s cell phone(s) as evidence. Once a search warrant is signed, the Digital Forensic Unit conducts a physical examination of the device. However, the Digital Forensic Unit has limited resources and time to undertake prolonged data analysis. Therefore, the device’s data is transferred to a hard drive and returned to the detective for research, review, and analysis utilizing a program called Cellebrite Reader which allows for the review of large data files quickly and efficiently. These computers will not be on the City Network and will not be serviced through City IT. While OPD currently owns the software, purchasing a computer with architecture powerful enough to run it will be instrumental in comprehensively and efficiently collecting data from suspects' cell phones, collecting evidence, and assisting with investigations. The combination of the night vision devices, the covert streetlight cameras, and the computers to run Cellebrite Reader software will help in our goal to increase investigator capacity to take dangerous opioids, stimulants, and other illegal drugs and those who sell them off the streets.

Date Created: December 22, 2021