NJ Attorney General Says Data Sharing Can Help Combat Opioid Problem

Sep 12, 2018

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal

New Jersey plans to use the state’s database to better predict where the next opioid overdose might happen. 

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal says the state already has a lot of data about the locations of overdoses and first responders’ use of the Narcan antidote to save lives.

“We are starting to take that information to identify overdose hotspots or to integrate that with pawn shop data to see where stolen goods are being sold and who’s selling them and to marry all that up to have profiles of our next potential overdose victim.”

Grewal says that data can help law enforcement get there before the next fatal overdose and help get drug users into treatment.  He says it can also identify areas where drugs are being sold.

Grewal says it’s critical that law enforcement in the state collaborate to deal with the opioid epidemic.

“We could have all the tools, we could have all the data, if we don’t talk to each other and share that data with each other, then it’s useless. If we sit on this information in our little silos, if Cape May doesn’t share with Bergen, if Bergen doesn’t share with the State Police, then we’re not effectively addressing the problem.”

State Police Superintendent Patrick Callaghan says law enforcement agencies are willing to share that data.

“There is just a sense of checking your ego at the door. The 9-11 Commission report pointed out what tragedies can come when you don’t share information or when you want to stay in your silo or if you want to be the one taking the credit in front of the podium.”

The strategy is similar to the way information about crimes is being shared by law enforcement to help stop the flow of illegal guns.

Grewal says the overdose and Narcan data is also being made public so residents know the opioid epidemic is affecting their local communities and might stimulate discussion on prevention efforts.