Cops use overdose-tracking app to find drug hot spots

The Nassau County Police Department is using a real-time tool that gives them the data needed to crack down on the opioid crisis.

"If there's three to four overdoses in a 1- to 2-mile radius in a 24-hour period, we'll get an email on our phone alerting us," Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.

The app is called ODMap. It is federally funded and only available to public safety officials, who enter information about fatal and non-fatal overdoses. The information then helps law enforcement predict patterns and prevent crimes that they say oftentimes go hand in hand.

"By mapping the hot spots, it'll allow us to then focus on the people that need to be arrested—the dealers, we'll get the sellers—and at the same time get a reduction of crime in the area," Ryder said.

Narcan was administered 564 times in 2016, 625 in 2017, and 41 times so far this year, according to the department.

Jeffrey Reynolds of the Family and Children's Association said this is a wakeup call because the drug epidemic isn't contained to one community.  

"As we map those overdoses we can never lose sight we should we eliminating them altogether," Reynolds said. "We want to make sure there's a focus not only in tracking those overdoses but on really doing the kind of prevention necessary for us to turn a corner in this epidemic."

Law enforcement works with families to carefully review phone data and then go after the dealers. But those who have already lost loved ones say by then it is too late.

Photographs are all the Kassler family has to remember their beloved son Garrett who was 27 when he lost his battle to heroin. His father, Lee, said more needs to be done.

"We need to back pedal and be more proactive in stopping the overdoses and stopping the drugs from hitting the streets," he said.

Officials said the number of reported overdoses may increase because of the new intelligence tool. However, they said they hope that fewer people will die in the long run.