Delray Beach has transformed what the New York Times dubbed the relapse capital to being on pace to cut its overdoses by more than half, year over year.
“About two years ago I can remember telling reporters and news media that I didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. I can tell you now that I can see light,” said Delray Beach Police Chief Jeff Goldman.
He said two years ago the department started a three-pronged approach: enforcement, education and life saving.
Last July, a woman named Arianna Ciancio was hired. A social worker on police payroll that tied the three together.
“I come in every single morning and I follow up on all the overdoses,” she said in a video produced by the police department.
She’s a boots on the ground employee, advocating for the homeless and addicts providing options. Goldman says she’s help put around 70 people into treatment centers.
“That to me was the key, definitely unique to Delray Beach,” he said.
In March last year, police in Delray Beach responded to 59 overdoses. This year it was 21.
“This is where we keep our backup here,” Delray Beach Fire Capt. Kevin Saxton while showing WPTV some of their Narcan supply. It’s instant overdose elixir.
Narcan's use peaked in October 2016, when it was used 317 times. The lowest month since then was in February this year with 26.
It’s freed up rescue resources.
“The way we’re staffed, and the way we are able to be available more for these calls, it has helped our units to be available more for the citizens,” Saxton said.
Another factor: The city passed regulation for group homes. It let the good ones operate but keeps the bad ones honest.
Progress but still volatile.
“Is it over? No, I do know that one bad batch can run through our community, and we could have our numbers spike,” Goldman said.
“We’re one bad batch away from running out of resources right now in the entire city,” Saxton said.