Law Enforcement TF Report


Maine Opioid Collaborative

Law Enforcement Task Force

Portland Police Chief Michael J. Sauschuck. Co-Chair

Sagadahoc County Sherriff Joel Merry, Co-Chair

Statement of Purpose

The current opiate epidemic in Maine has created a public health and public safety dynamic that has placed overwhelming demands on law enforcement, the state court system, and jails. To address this situation, law enforcement agencies must approach this dynamic from both the public health and public safety aspects. Law enforcement agencies recognize components of this crisis (e.g. low level users) are a public health issue and addressing those components through health services including diversion and drug court programs is essential. On the other hand, the persons supplying the heroin or possessing firearms during their drug crimes present serious public safety threats to communities throughout Maine and law enforcement must address that threat with informed and coordinated enforcement efforts. Reducing demand by treating the customer base while at the same time aggressively targeting the most dangerous drug traffickers will be the most efficient and expeditious manner to resolve this crisis.

The goal of this task force was to develop recommendations from a law enforcement perspective to recognize areas of need and to identify solutions to address this epidemic. The law enforcement group consisted of representatives from Maine’s Sheriffs, Chiefs of Police, the Attorney General’s office, Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, the Medical Examiner’s office, Maine State Police, the Department of Public Safety, the National Guard, the Fusion Center, the District Attorneys, the United States Attorney’s office, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The law enforcement task force quickly identified five areas of discussion and established subcommittees in order to develop recommendations covering each of the five subject areas:

  1. Cultural/Attitudinal Education and Training
  2. Investigation
  3. Law Enforcement Community Initiatives
  4. Problem Solving Courts
  5. Custodial Treatment & Re-Entry with Treatment

Through the course of its work, the task force ultimately made the following recommendations: train all existing and new law enforcement personnel on the science of substance use disorders; identify, investigate, and prosecute the most dangerous drug traffickers; support and encourage effective law enforcement diversion programs; increase statewide access to effective problem solving courts; and, provide custodial treatment for county jail inmates with substance use disorders and to provide case management services for re-entry into the community.


I. GOAL - Destigmatize Substance Use Disorders within the law enforcement profession.

A. OBJECTIVE - Develop and implement a Substance Use Disorder training block for the Maine Criminal Justice Academy's January 2017 Basic Law Enforcement Training Program class that covers the basic science behind these disorders while incorporating a humanizing component.

1. Strategy 1 - Collaborate with members of the prevention team to develop or adapt an existing training program.

2. Strategy 2 - Collaborate with members of the prevention, treatment, enforcement, and recovery communities to develop a panel style conversation with new cadets.

B. OBJECTIVE - Develop and implement a Substance Use Disorder training block to be approved and mandated as an in-service class for all law enforcement by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy Board of Trustees for 2017.

1. Strategy 1 - Collaborate with members of the prevention team to develop or adapt an existing training program.

2. Strategy 2 - Collaborate with members of the prevention, treatment, enforcement, and recovery communities to develop a panel style conversation with certified law enforcement officers from across the state whenever possible. If the logistics surrounding this portion of the strategy are found to be too difficult then personalized videos from families and individuals in recovery should be incorporated.

II. GOAL - Identify, Investigate, and prosecute most dangerous drug traffickers

A. OBJECTIVE - Increase successful prosecutions of out of state suppliers (located out of state) and death resulting cases by 100% for 2017

1. Strategy 1 - Improve Intelligence Gathering and Sharing

a) Acquire a statewide intelligence sharing program for state and local law enforcement to utilize.

b) Encourage Use of DICE (US DEA's Deconfliction and Coordination Endeavor software).

c) Eliminate cultural and attitudinal barriers to law enforcement information sharing.

(1) Secure Memoranda of Understanding ( MOUs) from law enforcement agencies and the Maine Information and Analysis Center for access/sharing of records management systems. (Ex. Spillman Insight)

(2) Improved attendance and participation at regional intel/information sharing meetings.

(3) Outreach by NE HIDTA drug intelligence officer from within the MIAC to law enforcement agencies within Maine and New England.

(4) Increased collaboration and information sharing between the public safety and public health communities1 to identify traffickers who present significant public health threats MIAC's public health analyst (HIDTA) needs to coordinate MOUs with the agencies specified below to include entering into data sharing agreements

2. Strategy 2 - Coordinate local, state, and federal drug enforcement investigatory resources

a) Establish investigatory and prosecutorial protocols so federal and state drug enforcement agencies conduct investigations targeting interstate drug suppliers collaboratively and integrate their respective resources.

b) Convene a meeting in June 2016 of all state and federal drug enforcement organizations to discuss collaborative efforts targeting most serious drug traffickers.

3. Strategy 3 - Emphasizing death/serious injury resulting investigations and prosecutions

a) Communicate to appropriate federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies which agency will have initial and primary responsibility over death resulting aspect of the investigation

b) Consider change to Attorney General Protocol on Drug Death investigations regarding response to these investigations.

c) Establish and emphasize mentality that every death/serious injury resulting from an overdose should be treated as crime scene.

d) Establish and implement a training module addressing specific investigatory dynamics involved in a death resulting investigation which not only involves the crime scene but providing support to victims’ family with information to family/friends related to support groups and substance use disorder resources

e) Consider changing statutory language so that proof of causation is not higher “in fact” standard but instead enhanced penalties would be available when drug supplied was “substantial contributing factor” to death/serious injury

f) Drug enforcement agents will work with MIAC to identify locations with high concentration of overdoses (fatal/non-fatal)

III. GOAL - Support and Encourage Effective Pre-Charge Law Enforcement Programs

A. OBJECTIVE - Every prosecutorial district/public health district should have an effective Pre- Charge Diversion Program

1. Strategy – Develop a treatment/recovery resource in each prosecutorial district that would be available to all law enforcement agencies in that jurisdiction to contact for treatment/recovery services.

a) Each public health district must have an infrastructure that promotes collaboration between law enforcement and treatment/recovery resources in each jurisdiction so that appropriate individuals can be referred by law enforcement before charging process to appropriate services in that jurisdiction.

b) Develop tracking system of recidivism rates to determine the effectiveness of the diversion programs to guide treatment options provided through diversion programs to determine best treatment for this population.

IV. GOAL - Make Problem Solving Courts available for every appropriate defendant.

A. OBJECTIVE - Create capacity in PSCs to serve all persons who would benefit from PSC

1. Strategy – Increase capacity of Maine Problem Solving Courts (PSCs).

a) Seek state and federal funding to expand PSC capacity including monies for facilities, case managers, judges, prosecutors, and treatment providers.

b) Specifically consider seeking federal grant funding to create a pilot project PSC that addresses different population than presently served.

B. OBJECTIVE - Develop best evidence based treatment approaches for populations served in Maine PSCs

a) Develop tracking system of recidivism rates to determine the effectiveness of the PSCs and guide treatment options provided through PSCs to determine best treatment for population served in PSCs.

V. GOAL - Provide custodial treatment for county jail inmates with substance use disorders.

A. OBJECTIVE - Create custodial treatment programs in participating county jails using intensive and comprehensive therapy that allows offenders to overcome addiction and remain substance free upon re-entry into the community. The treatment program will also identify co-occurring mental health disorders that may also be address during incarceration.

1. Strategy: Develop programs at a county jail facility (first priority will be program for female offenders) that will provide intensive substance abuse treatment and behavior modification to prepare offenders for release into community based treatment or into an intermediate sanction either as part of probation or participation in a drug court.

a) A main ingredient of the treatment will be to establish natural supports for the offender during their incarceration. One proposed concept entails a “success committee” that will meet regularly with the offender, establishing a release plan that will include support from family, the business community, a faith based organization, and law enforcement.

VI. GOAL - Provide case management services for re-entry.

A. OBJECTIVE - In conjunction with the natural supports, develop and implement a recovery coaching model program to assist inmates as part of transition back into the community implementation by January 2017.

1. Strategy: Recovery coaches know the challenges to overcome drug addiction and will serve as a support system (similar to an AA Sponsor) to encourage positive change, helping persons adjust to freedom while avoiding relapse. Also, recovery coaches will work on life goals not related to addiction such as relationships, work, education etc.

Footnote 1:             

  1. A. Maine Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
  2. B. Maine Health Data Organization (MHDO)
  3. C. Maine Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME)
  4. D. Northern New England Poison Center (NNEPC)
  5. E. Drug Diversion Ale1t Program
  6. F. Office of Data, Research and Vital Statistics (ODRVS)
  7. G. Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP)
  8. H. Treatment Data System (TDS)