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. This will be accomplished through a series of drug takeback events staged in areas where overdoses are occurring.