Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $459,576)
The City of Erie, Pennsylvania has seen overdose incidents increase by 196% and overdose deaths increase by 400% from 2019 to 2020. Current data from authorities shows that the rate is not slowing. In the first six months of 2021, Erie has experienced a 97% increase in overdose victims. This COSSAP Site-Based initiative will allow the City of Erie Police Department to implement new locally-driven efforts to reduce the impact of opioids, stimulants, and other substance abuse in our community. First, officers will start a Diversion and Identification Unit, designed to help individuals who are at-risk or low-level and non-violent connect to recovery resources. Erie Police will also initiate a Survivor Follow-up Team to proactively provide individuals with service referrals and reinforce available recovery supports. Our COSSAP strategy also will expand our current law enforcement mentorship programs with Erie Public School students. The Erie Police Athletic League (PAL) has demonstrated the value and impact of the cop-kid relationship in the City after relaunching in 2015. Through this COSSAP Site-Based initiative, Erie PAL will further expand positive activities with officers and youth. All of these new law enforcement endeavors will leverage and complement existing resources for Erie residents impacted by opioids and substance abuse. To continually assess progress and monitor illicit substance use indicators, Erie Police Department will be directly assisted by our new Civilian Crime Analyst and through a partnership with Mercyhurst University Civic Institute that includes coordination of the new strategies with the comprehensive local network of supports for individuals impacted by opioids, stimulants, and substance abuse in the City of Erie.