It’s been referred to as the recovery capital of the world and has often become synonymous with the opioid crisis. However, now that 2017 has wrapped up, the city of Delray Beach has some positive numbers to report.
The crisis emerged early in Delray Beach.
“We could easily just arrest them all, but that’s not solving the problem,” said Delray Beach Police Chief Jeff Goldman.
That problem is best explained by the numbers. The police department responded to 690 drug overdoses in 2016 alone. Nearly 90 percent of them were heroin or opioid related.
“It was a system. They would overdose. We would get the information. They would go overdose again,” said Goldman.
There's now a wrench in that system. And Goldman believes that's why his department has now seen a decrease in overdoses over the last six months.
While the final number was still high, 625, Delray Beach police finished out 2017 with few overdoses than the year before.
It’s a major step forward, according to the chief.
“It took us about a year into to it to say what do we do after Narcan?”
In June, the Delray Beach Police Department hired Ariana Ciancio. She’s the city’s very first Service Population Advocate.
“Anything that I can provide them. Any resources. I call them. I leave them voicemails and hoping that they do call me back,” said Ciancio.
With almost a grassroots mentality, Ciancio is the boots on the ground. She’s going one by one providing the support where it’s needed.
“It’s really intense case management, is what I’m doing and I’m following through with them from beginning to end,” said Ciancio.
Delray Beach police said another big part of this equation has been the crack down on the sober home industry and the creation of the sober home task force.
The chief says he is “cautiously optimistic” because one bad batch of heroin could throw all of their progress off in one fell swoop.
While Delray Beach is starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel, other cities are still struggling.
“2017 we saw a substantial uptick in the number of overdose response calls,” said Capt. Brian Kapper with the West Palm Beach Police Department.
West Palm PD saw it’s overdose calls increase by 63 percent between 2016 and 2017.
They finished off 2017 with 729 overdoses.
“We were hit very heavy during the middle part of the year. Toward the end of the year, we started to see a gradual decrease,” said Kapper.
The department just wrapped up a massive crackdown called Operation Pocket Change. It took 37 dealers off the street.
The department is hopeful it will translate, but the work isn’t done yet.
“It’s going to take the work of the rest of the government and society itself to to make a change to where we can gradually get rid of this problem.”