St. Louis County Police Department receives national award for heroin education initiative

The St. Louis County Police Department’s Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force will receive the 2012 “Outstanding Community Prevention Effort Award” in Washington, D.C., Thursday, Dec. 13, as a result of its heroin initiative “Not-Even-Once” campaign.

The task force is comprised not only of St. Louis County Police Officers, but officers from eight other area municipal police departments.

The award will be presented by President Barack Obama’s Drug Czar, Director Gil Kerlikowske of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. It is given to the task force that exhibits outstanding results in community support, assistance and education in utilizing the cooperative spirit and tenets of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA, program. St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley also will be present at the ceremony.

The goal of the “Not-Even-Once” program was to prevent young people from experimenting with heroin and to reduce the overall number of heroin overdose fatalities in St. Louis County. After rising to a total of 91 deaths in 2011, heroin fatalities in St. Louis County have decreased by 30 percent to date in 2012, according to a news release.

Chief Tim Fitch stated in the release, “I couldn’t be more proud of the tenacity that the officers have put forward to attack this growing problem. Heroin overdose deaths in St. Louis County have greatly diminished and every person on the task force has made a difference in that reduction. Our partners in this initiative have been the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse and the St. Louis County Children’s Fund.

“Chief Fitch, his department and the other area police departments are once again leading the way to help us curb this serious problem,” Dooley stated in the release. “This national recognition is well deserved.”

The St. Louis County Police Department’s Multi-Jurisdictional Drug Task Force received the Midwest HIDTA Regional Award Dec. 3.