MPD Chief Maury Richards reflects on National Opioid Conference

Officers gathered at New York Police Department Headquarters to tackle the issue

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - It is no secret that the opioid epidemic is a widespread problem, not just across the Four-State, but nationwide.
 
Police representatives from large and small cities across the country gathered at New York Police Department Headquarters to tackle the issue.
 
"If we don't reduce the demand for opioids, we will never affect the supply,” said Martinsburg Police Department Chief Maury Richards.
 
According to Chief Richards, it's all about perspective when it comes to dealing with the heroin and opioid problem.
 
"Getting several heads together is always the best way to come to a solution,” said Chief Richards.
 
According to 2016 statistics, the number of people overdosing is on a rise in West Virginia. Last year, 195 people in Martinsburg alone overdosed, and 18 of those ODs were fatal.
 
"We can't arrest our way out of this problem. It's going to take cooperation at every level of government and working in public and private sector partnerships,” said Police Commissioner James O'Neill.
 
With the current state of the epidemic, Chief Richards said the conference couldn't have come at a better time.
 
Chief Richards was the only representative from West Virginia, putting the Mountain State in the spotlight to talk about enforcement, treatment and prevention.
 
"The only way we're going to beat this long term is getting people on the same page, so we [can] maximize our resources [and] find out what really works,” said Richards.
 
And what's working in Berkeley County is the Martinsburg Initiative, which Chief Richards said has come a long way since its beginning last September.
 
"We’re working with individual children. We've got a couple families working with us, and then that outreach is there,” said Richards.
 
He said the biggest takeaway from the conference was bouncing ideas off other officers from across the country and taking that back to positively help Martinsburg.
 
The meeting was hosted by the Police Executive Research Forum and the New York Police Department.

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