Maryland Governor announces $6 million grant to fight opioid crisis

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced that more than $6 million from the Department of Justice will go to the State of Maryland to support a coordinated, statewide response to the opioid crisis.

“For five years, our administration has been committed to shining a spotlight on the heroin and opioid epidemic, which has torn apart communities and families throughout our state and across the nation,” said Governor Hogan. “This grant will enable us to make critical interventions and save lives as we continue using every tool at our disposal to address this crisis.”

The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, along with the Maryland Department of Health, the Behavioral Health Administration, and the Office of the Public Defender, will work with local law enforcement and health agencies to support three existing and six new Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) and detention-based diversion programs for nine sites in Maryland.

For its part, the Hogan administration recorded more than $674 million in opioid-related spending in FY19, which is expected to reach $747 million during the current fiscal year of FY20.

LEAD is a tool that empowers police to refer eligible individuals to public health services instead of making an arrest. This model has shown an improvement in public safety outcomes and reducing costs while also supporting law enforcement partners and community members.

“Diverting someone from arrest and toward public health resources empowers our state to meet people in their time of need and as a positive step in reducing violent crime,” said Glenn Fueston, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. “The interagency partnerships fostered by the LEAD program have proven crucial to creating a safer and healthier Maryland.”

“Our goal always is to enable the treatment of substance misuse where it starts,” said Steve Schuh, executive director of the Opioid Operational Command Center. “This grant illustrates the emphasis on diversion programs such as LEAD. These programs are a powerful way to connect citizens who are struggling with the resources that will lead to a healthier lifestyle and ultimate recovery.”

This award is part of the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program FY 2019 statewide grant program, which provides resources to support state and local efforts to reduce violent crime and drug abuse, enhance public safety, and support victims of crime.

While the Department of Health and Opioid Operational Command Center reports that more than 1,000 people died from an opioid overdose in Maryland during the first half of 2019, data also shows that Maryland experienced its first six-month decline in the total number of opioid-related fatalities in at least a decade.