Boone County Judge/Executive Gary Moore has been chosen to co-chair a national task force focused on heroin abuse.
The National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National League of Cities (NLC) created the joint national task force to address the nation’s opioid and heroin abuse crisis. The City-County Task Force Addressing Heroin and Opioid Abuse, composed of leaders from across the country, aims to enhance awareness, facilitate peer exchanges and identify sound policy and partnership solutions.
The task force builds on the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s four-pillared plan to reduce prescription drug abuse: education, monitoring, proper medication disposal and enforcement.
NACo and NLC elected leaders will explore proven practices for community prevention and overdose response, effective treatment options and public safety enforcement and supply reduction. NACo and NLC will share opportunities, challenges and issues local jurisdictions face when addressing opioid and heroin abuse in our communities.
“We see the devastating effects of prescription drug abuse and heroin use because counties are at the intersection of the local health, justice and public safety systems,” said NACo President Sallie Clark. “Addressing this issue is a top priority for local leaders. This new initiative will build on our efforts to mitigate this crisis and strengthen the safety and security of our neighborhoods.”
Counties and cities have recognized that the opioid and heroin abuse crisis has reached epidemic proportions. Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with more than 47,000 lethal drug overdoses in 2014.
This epidemic is driven largely by overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers (18,893) and deaths related to heroin (10,574). There were 259 million opioid prescriptions written in 2012, which is more than enough to give a pill bottle to every American adult.
“The rapidly increasing number of deaths from heroin overdoses and other opioids has reached epidemic proportions,” said National League of Cities President Melodee Colbert-Kean, a councilmember in Joplin, Missouri. “The National League of Cities is pleased to partner with county leaders at NACo to provide coordinated, intergovernmental solutions to this tragic problem.”
The task force will take the following actions:
• conduct at least two national dialogues where city and county elected leaders will explore the crisis’ growing trends and proven responses
• develop educational opportunities for counties and cities through special forums, educational workshops, webinars and other opportunities, and
• publish a national summary report of city-county collaboration, focusing on community prevention and overdose response, effective treatment options, public safety enforcement and supply reduction.
City-County Opioids Task Force Members
NACo has appointed the following county officials to the City-County Task Force Addressing Heroin and Opioid Abuse. Its first meeting is scheduled for April 7, in Washington, D.C.
• Judge Gary Moore, Boone County, Ky. – Task Force Co-Chair
• Commissioner Matt Bell, Weber County, Utah
• Commissioner Doug Corcoran, Ross County, Ohio
• County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper, Erie County, Pa.
• Dr. Vidya Kora, LaPorte County, Ind.
• Commissioner Waymon Mumford, Florence County, S.C.
• Supervisor Leticia Perez, Kern County, Calif.
• County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Erie County, N.Y.
• Commissioner Greg Puckett, Mercer County, W.Va.
• County Executive Steve Schuh, Anne Arundel County, Md.
• Commissioner Judy Shiprack, Multnomah County, Ore.
• Ex-officio – NACo President Sallie Clark, commissioner, El Paso County, Colo.
Moore was first elected Judge/Executive for Boone County, Kentucky in 1998.
He has been a strong supporter of St. Elizabeth Hospital, the Northern Kentucky Health Department and other local organizations in their effort to combat the heroin epidemic in Northern Kentucky.
The Northern Kentucky Health Department and St. Elizabeth Healthcare, however, strongly support needle exchange as a way to decrease the risk of disease among heroin users and encourage treatment.
Boone County, as well as Campbell and Kenton counties in Northern Kentucky, have not considered or approved legislation that would be a first step toward implementation of local syringe exchange programs.
Officials from St. Elizabeth and the Northern Kentucky Health Department spoke in favor of needle exchange at the Feb. 2 Boone County Fiscal Court meeting.
At that time, Moore indicated he would provide an opportunity for those opposed to needle exchange to present their views in the near future, possibly as early as February 16, prior to a Fiscal Court vote.
That discussion is not yet on the agenda for the Tuesday, March 15, Fiscal Court meeting, the last regular meeting in March, and no vote on needle exchange in Boone County has been scheduled.