Law Enforcement Initiatives to Combat Drug Abuse
The City of Orlando has implemented several drug task forces and other initiatives to address the rampant substance abuse problem in the area. Two of the task forces include the Prescription Drug Task Force and the Orange County Heroin Task Force.
Orange County Heroin Task Force
In August 2015, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Sheriff Jerry Demings announced the creation of the Orange County Heroin Task Force, which combined the prevention efforts of more than 20 leaders in local law enforcement, health care and education.
The task force was set in place to address the increasing heroin epidemic and overdose-related deaths in Orange County, Florida. Through rigorous awareness and education programs, it plans to target schools to teach students about the dangers of heroin. The task force also proposed a number of law enforcement measures, such as equipping law officials with the opioid reversal drug naloxone and increasing punishment for heroin dealers.
Prescription Drug Task Force
In July 2011, the local government of Orange County implemented a four-month Prescription Drug Task Force to examine the extent of the prescription drug problem in the community. The task force’s mission was to review state legislation and local ordinances and create substance abuse prevention strategies. It was also responsible for determining whether pain management clinics needed to be regulated. At its conclusion, the task force offered recommendations for health care and pharmacy professionals as well as an action plan for enforcement.
Prescription Drug Drop-Off
In an effort to combat prescription drug abuse in the area, the City of Orlando set up multiple drop-off locations for people to dispose of their unused or unwanted prescription medications.
- Orange County Sheriff’s Office Headquarters
- Northwest Orange County Sheriff’s Substation
- West Orange County Sheriff’s Substation
- East Orange County Sheriff’s Substation
- South Orange County Sheriff’s Substation
- Winter Park Police Department
- Ocoee Police Department
- Orlando Police Department
In 2015, the Orlando Police Department collaborated with the Drug Enforcement Administration for a Prescription Drug Take Back Initiative. This initiative provides a safe, convenient and responsible way to dispose of unneeded prescription drugs while educating the residents about the abuse potential of the drugs. The DEA has been working with local law enforcement partners to host National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day events since 2010.
Central Florida High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program
Congress created the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. Central Florida’s HIDTA aims to recognize and dismantle any drug trafficking organizations by using local, state and federal resources.
Operation Pain Killer II
On March 7, 2011, Operation Pain Killer II — a two-month multiagency investigation targeting Central Florida prescription drug traffickers — arrested 76 people and seized more than 28,000 units of prescription medicine, including oxycodone, hydrocodone and alprazolam.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported that the investigation was a collective initiative by the Central Florida HIDTA and other law enforcement agencies in the fight against prescription medication abuse.
UCF Police Trained to Deliver Naloxone
Amid the growing number of heroin-related deaths in Orange County, the University of Central Florida trained its campus police on how to use naloxone to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. According to a 2015 article published in the Orlando Sentinel, the UCF Police Department received roughly 150 doses of naloxone that were distributed to 70 officers.
“Heroin and other opioids, such as OxyContin, have been a major public health threat. Our students live in the community, our faculty and staff live in the community, and you can’t ignore this problem. We have to be proactive,” Dr. Michael Deichen, director of UCF Student Health Services, told the Orlando Sentinel.