In an effort to determine the scope of the drug epidemic within Plymouth County, District Attorney Tim Cruz and Sheriff Joe McDonald focused on collecting relevant data for the Plymouth County Drug Abuse Task Force.
Data collection is critical to the sharing of information and the tracking of the current trends of the opioid epidemic within Plymouth County. Data collection is vital as it indicates exactly where we need to place our resources in order to effect the most change.
Plymouth County Drug Abuse Task Force Database
In order to obtain true statistics, it is necessary to collect data throughout the county in the same organized, uniform way.
When the Task Force began to examine the opioid problem within our county, we found that police departments, town halls, EMS providers and hospitals were all collecting their data differently. They were collecting data for their agencies specific needs. The various methods of data collection were causing overlapping data and providing false numbers.
In December 2016, in an effort to get around these hurdles, District Attorney Cruz utilized $20,000.00 in grant monies to contract with Kelley Research Associates (KRA) to work with our Task Force members, the Plymouth County Police Chiefs, Fire Chiefs, area hospitals, EMS providers and schools to implement a county-wide strategy to collect data.
Kelley Research Associates agreed to create and implement a county-wide, web-based database system to monitor all overdoses as well as create and implement a county-wide, law enforcement based overdose follow-up procedure that would also be tracked via the proposed web-based database system.
A four phase process was proposed by KRA and accepted to accomplish this project:
KRA will assist with the creation and implementation of a paper form to collect data on all overdoses occuring in Plymouth County.
KRA will continue to receive feedback from participating towns concerning:
- the effectiveness of the form
- the ease of completion
- identify any missing variables
Once the database is developed, KRA will conduct training and the implementation will begin.
KRA will focus on creating administrative tools and reports that will assist the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office in clearly defining the overdose problems across the county as well as the success of the law enforcement follow-up protocol. (PCO).
An intake form was created and handed out to all of these agencies to identify the kind of data they would like to collect; the method they were using to collect their data; and their purpose for collecting this data.
The intake form proved successful, as we were able to see the discrepancies with the data between departments, and the discrepancies in the methods of how the data was collected.
The Task Force Members then focused on the ability to access statistics based on real time data. To achieve this goal, a centralized web-based database was created by Kelly Research & Associates (KRA).
This centralized web-based database has enabled us to share data and track current trends across Plymouth County in real time. The above mentioned agencies across Plymouth County have all entered into an agreement to utilize this database through our task force initiative-The Plymouth County Outreach (PCO).
All four phases reached completion by mid 2017, and the web-based database is currently in full use.
In July of 2017, District Attorney Cruz allocated $20,025.00 from the MDAA: MA State Legislature Drug Diversion and Education Fund to contract with KRA to assist with three additional goals related to the database:
- To document and measure the prevalence of the overdose problem
- To facilitate data sharing across jurisdictions
- Track and document the outcomes associated with follow-up practices.
Documentation and evaluation are key components to Intercept 1, and the linchpin for proper information sharing between departments. Information sharing allows law enforcement to close any potential gaps in helping Substance Use Disorder (SUDs) individuals be diverted into treatment following an overdose.
In 2019, District Attorney Cruz, allocated $20,000.00 from the MDAA: MA State Legislature Drug Diversion and Education Fund to hire DataVis to pilot 7 police departments in Plymouth County, utilizing a tool in IMC called Special Studies. This tool ensures that each department is capturing all of Plymouth County Outreach CIMS data fields directly from the scene and/or from Dispatch, with the goal to export that data automatically from IMC into the KRA CIMS or other data sites through DataVis and Special Studies. This software easily links to existing systems and databases within agencies and departments.