March 27, 2017

ICYMI: New Hampshire Leads Effort to Treat Overdoses as Crime Scenes

ICYMI: New Hampshire Leads Effort to Treat Overdoses as Crime Scenes


Training Program to Prosecute Drug Dealers Established Under then-Governor Hassan’s Leadership


WASHINGTON – On Friday, the Associated Press highlighted New Hampshire’s successful training program that educates police officers and prosecutors on how to treat drug overdoses as crime scenes and has become a “blueprint” for other attorneys general across the nation whose states are battling substance misuse.


Last summer, under then-Governor Maggie Hassan’s leadership, Attorney General Joe Foster started the training program as part of the State’s comprehensive approach to combat the heroin, fentanyl, and opioid crisis by supporting law enforcement.


The goal of the program is to bring together local, state, and federal law enforcement officials and prosecutors to better trace drugs to the source and charge dealers responsible for deaths from an overdose.


Click here for the full story or see below for excerpts:  


A New Hampshire training program that teaches police officers and prosecutors how to treat drug overdoses as crime scenes is emerging as a model for other states grappling with the opioid crisis.


Outgoing Attorney General Joe Foster launched the training last summer so that officers could learn how to trace bad batches of drugs to the source, with the goal of charging dealers — particularly large suppliers — who cause overdoses with "death resulting," a previously little-used charge that carries up to life in prison.


That training now serves as a blueprint for other attorneys general nationwide. The National Association of Attorneys General brought several New Hampshire officials to Washington in early March to draft training materials for wider use, and Foster himself has become a go-to person on the issue.


"The New Hampshire program just absolutely, in my mind, was the catalyst or the cha-ching moment of, 'Hey, this would be a wonderful training to take nationally," said Mark Neil, counsel for the National Association of Attorneys General's training division.


…Officials say New Hampshire stands out because its training was the first that brought local, state and federal officers and prosecutors together to share information and to make sure everyone is approaching overdose scenes in the same way — as a crime scene rather than an accidental death. The training teaches police how to gather evidence such as cell phone records that could be traced back to the dealer and how to safely handle fentanyl, the potent drug now responsible for the majority of New Hampshire's overdoses.


…Since the training, New Hampshire's justice department has charged 11 people with "death resulting," up from just one the year before. Local departments have sent the AG's office 114 cases for more investigation, and county attorneys also pursue death resulting charges on their own.

... "I'm told by law enforcement that there's chatter about the fact that if you cause a death you may well be looking at some significant jail time, so hopefully there'll be some deterrence," Foster said.