Opioid epidemic highlights Crime Stoppers meeting at Tennessee State University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Nearly 30 representatives from law enforcement agencies across Middle Tennessee met at Tennessee State University on Feb. 8 for intelligence and information sharing on crime prevention and how to address the state’s opioid crisis.

It was the monthly meeting of Crime Stoppers of Middle Tennessee, which included law enforcement chiefs, officers, detectives and security officers from counties, cities, universities and other jurisdictions in the region. The national opioid epidemic and its impact on the region was a major topic at the gathering.

Trevor Henderson, left, and Nichelle Foster, both from the Metro Health Department, make a presentation on the opioid epidemic, at the Crime Stoppers’ meeting. (Photo by Courtney Buggs, TSU Media Relations)

In a presentation, a team from the Metro Public Health Department reported on the level of abuse in the area. In 2016, the group reported, there were 1,631 overdose deaths in Tennessee. Of that number, 281 were in Davidson County. In overdose cases involving the ER, the group reported that the majority of people affected were between ages 18-44.

“This is very serious,” said Trevor Henderson, opioid coordinator in the Metro Health Department.  “We are doing everything possible to keep bringing those numbers down.”

Nichelle Foster, also from the Metro Health Department, made the presentation with Henderson. Foster is from the Division of Behavioral Health and Wellness. She helps individuals recognize the difference between use, abuse and addiction to determine if the individual has substance use or risky lifestyle issues that need to be addressed in a treatment or educational setting.

Recently, TSU joined the fight to address the state’s opioid epidemic. The university implemented a new overdose prevention program to stop deaths associated with misuse and addiction.

Last month, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced an aggressive and comprehensive plan to end the opioid epidemic in Tennessee by focusing on prevention, treatment and law enforcement. Called TN Together, the plan includes providing every Tennessee state trooper with naloxone (NARCAN) for the emergency treatment of opioid overdose.

Under the TSU initiative, certified university police officers will be able to administer NARCAN Nasal Spray, a prescription medicine used for the treatment of an opioid emergency, such as an overdose. The initiative is in conjunction with Nashville Prevention, a division of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

“Our goal at the TSU Police Department is to minimize the likelihood that someone on our campus dies from an overdose of opiates,” said Aerin Washington, TSUPD’s crime prevention officer, who coordinated the Feb. 8 meeting. “We want to be on the cutting edge of this movement as we strive to serve the community in every aspect that we can.”

Department of Media Relations

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With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 25 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.