The heroin-deterrent “Not-Even-Once” campaign initiated in the St. Louis metropolitan area by St. Louis County Police Department officers is credited for a 30 percent drop in deaths from the drug since the effort was launched. The campaign's results also were noticed on a larger scale, resulting in the department just receiving a national award in heroin education.
The award will be presented Thursday by President Barack Obama’s drug czar, director Gil Kerlikowske of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, in Washington, D.C. The award is given to the task force that exhibits outstanding results in community support, assistance and education in using the cooperative spirit and tenets of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program.
St. Louis County Police Department’s Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force members received the Midwest HIDTA Regional Award on Dec. 3.
In addition to St. Louis County police officers, such as those in the 6th Precinct in Wildwood, this campaign's task force consists of officers from eight other area municipal Police Departments: Ballwin, Bellefontaine Neighbors, Chesterfield, Webster Groves, Manchester, Ferguson, Woodson Terrace and St. Charles.
The goal of the “Not-Even-Once” program was to prevent young people from experimenting with heroin, and to reduce the overall number of heroin overdose fatalities in St. Louis County. After rising to a total of 91 deaths in 2011, heroin fatalities in St. Louis County have decreased by 30 percent to date in 2012.
Chief Tim Fitch stated in a news release about the award: "I couldn’t be more proud of the tenacity that the officers have put forward to attack this growing problem. Heroin overdose deaths in St. Louis County have greatly diminished, and every person on the task force has made a difference in that reduction."
He said partners in this initiative had been the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, and the St. Louis County Children’s Fund.
St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley also will be present at Thursday's award ceremony. “This national recognition is well deserved," stated Dooley in the news release.
"Chief Fitch, his department and the other area police departments are once again leading the way to help us curb this serious problem."