For the first time, Baltimore police have begun investigating overdoses in an effort to trace drugs back to dealers, joining a wave of Maryland law enforcement agencies showing up at 911 calls previously left to medics, reports the Baltimore Sun.
A task force of five detectives will operate out of the homicide unit, responding when possible to fatal and nonfatal overdoses. More than 1,000 patrol officers also are being trained to respond to overdose scenes by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
"I think everyone would agree that we can't keep up this rate of overdoses," Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said in an interview. "We're going to build some cases hopefully that will result in some criminal charges against people putting this poison out on the street."
The effort has been in the works for more than a year in partnership with the Baltimore state's attorney's office and with guidance from local DEA agents, who have been working with smaller agencies statewide to collect and share information about drug dealing resulting in overdoses.
Officials stress that they want to go after dealers, not users, and say they've learned lessons from past efforts to crack down on drugs.