United States Attorney and Lexington Police Chief Announce New Partnership in Fight Against Opiate Epidemic
Partnership focuses on more training for investigators, more prosecutions of high-level dealers, and intervention.
LEXINGTON, Ky. — U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Lexington Police Chief Mark Barnard jointly announce a new initiative aiming to implement a comprehensive approach to central Kentucky’s opioid epidemic.
As part of the plan, the Lexington Police have added officers to its narcotics unit with an enhanced focus on investigating overdose cases. Certain of these officers will exclusively investigate overdose cases, that result in either death or serious bodily injury, in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s overdose prosecution initiative. That initiative focuses on prosecuting dangerous drug dealers and their suppliers, who distribute heroin, fentanyl and other opioids that cause overdoses, under a federal statute that imposes a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison and up to life imprisonment upon conviction. Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and officers of the Lexington Police Department will jointly train on best practices in the investigation and prosecution of overdose cases.
Beginning this month, Lexington Police are carrying naloxone, a life-saving medication used to revive individuals who have overdosed on opioids such as oxycodone, heroin or fentanyl. The new initiative plans to provide treatment information to survivors of an overdose who suffer from addiction. The Lexington Police Department is currently working with the City’s Substance Abuse and Violence Intervention program to identify medical providers and recovery specialists who can partner in this initiative.
“Kentucky’s opioid epidemic requires an all hands on deck approach,” said U.S. Attorney Harvey. We must make central Kentucky an inhospitable environment for drug dealers and their suppliers. Our deepening partnership with the Lexington Police is a potential game changer in combatting this scourge in our community. Prosecutions alone cannot solve this problem, however, and we must create partnerships that make effective, affordable addiction treatment available to those in need on a timely basis. Prevention and education efforts must be intensified as well. I applaud Chief Barnard’s leadership on this issue, and look forward to working closely with him as we convene community stakeholders in order to devise innovative responses to this threat.”
“We have nearly doubled the number of personnel assigned to our Narcotics Enforcement Unit because the problem we’re seeing in our community is that significant,” Chief Barnard said. “Two detectives focus specifically on overdose cases. The goal is to track down drug dealers who are preying on individuals suffering from addiction and destroying families, while also making sure victims are connected with the resources they need to get help.”