Saint Paul Police Department using a new tool to address opioid epidemic

The Saint Paul Police Department has started using a new tool to help people addicted to opioids: ODMAP.

The Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program, or ODMAP, is a free, mobile-based application that allows the department to track opioid use trends, connect with people who may be suffering from addiction and react quickly to spikes in overdoses.

“The opioid epidemic has tragically affected individuals, families and communities across the country—including right here in Saint Paul,” said Chief Todd Axtell. “ODMAP will help us better protect our community from its insidious grasp.”

The application was developed by the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas organization. It allows police officers and first responders to enter information about fatal and non-fatal overdoses into a database that can then be used to connect people in need of help to services and identify concentrated groups of overdoses.

The Saint Paul Police Department is rolling out the app to officers in two phases.

Phase one, which is currently underway, involves recording and analyzing overdose data, which is then shared with members of the department’s Community Outreach and Stabilization Unit (formerly the Mental Health Unit). The officers and social workers with the unit are then reaching out to people who have overdosed, offering access to addiction treatment and other services.

Phase two, which will begin later this year, will involve training patrol officers to use the app to record real-time information about overdoses. This data will then be monitored by a research analyst, who will look for trends that could indicate bad batches of the drug on the street. When this occurs, a “spike alert” will immediately be issued to members of the police department and community, and members of the Community Outreach and Stabilization Unit will work to make people addicted to the drug aware of the situation.

According to Axtell, the goal is to improve the department’s ability to offer help to people in need, educate the community, disrupt overdose spikes and prevent deaths.

In December 2017, officers began carrying Narcan, a nasal spray that counteracts the life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose. So far, officers have administered 65 doses. Last year, 76 people died from suspected opioid overdoses in Saint Paul, according to preliminary information released by the Minnesota Department of Health. 

“The consequences of the opioid epidemic are devastating,” said Axtell. “Each day, 130 people die from opioid-related drug overdoses in the United States—and Saint Paul is not immune. We will do everything we can to help people and protect our city from the devastating consequences of this drug.”