The Opioid Fatality Review Project of the District Attorney’s Office operates under a 36-month grant awarded March 2019 by the federal Bureau of Justice Administration. Its strategic objectives are to combat the opioid epidemic, reduce fatal overdoses and protect the American people. This project encourages and supports cross-system planning and collaboration among the criminal justice system, behavioral health, public health, and a variety of other systems and agencies.
• To improve system responses to persons with opioid use disorders, their families and victims of crime
• To improve law enforcement responses to opioid-related investigations of dealers and distributors
• To accurately report data on the opioid epidemic in Cobb County
• To leverage learnings and recommendations from the Opioid Fatality Review process to reduce fatal and non-fatal overdoses.
Objectives are implemented through the OFR panel, direct wrap-around case management services, streamlined investigations and specialized comprehensive research.
Cobb County is one of the largest diverse Counties in Georgia and home to more than 750,000 residents among seven municipalities. Sadly, in 2017 Cobb County led the state as having the highest number of reported overdose deaths. Based on Cobb County Medical Examiner’s 2018 annual report (published June 21, 2019), in 2018 there were 112 drug deaths, of which 82 (73%) were opioid-related.
Case Manager Latoya Inzar provides voluntary direct support and community-referral services for acute and chronic needs to offenders of an opioid-related crime and their families. Case-management services are targeted to those who do not meet Accountability Court requirements, participants of pretrial diversion, and all Cobb County residents.
Investigator Nicole Lucas establishes partnerships with law enforcement and first responders to shift the focus to overdose awareness and deter focus on the addicted user. The Investigator identifies and targets the seller and distributor, eradicating the supply side of the opioid epidemic in Cobb County.
• Increased degree of communication, cooperation, and collaboration among stakeholders’ agencies.
• Increased degree to which person with Opioid Use Disorders are referred to and receive appropriate treatment and ancillary services.
• Increased degree to which relevant leads are discovered; sales and distribution cases are investigated; and persons responsible for supplying illicit opioids are prosecuted.
• Increased understanding of factors related to opioid overdoses.
• Increased number of persons with opioid use disorders who successfully complete treatment.
• Cobb County utilizes an integrated collaborative means to address opioid misuse.
• Cobb County demonstrates a meaningful and sustained reduction in opioid-related overdose fatalities and near fatalities.
• Persons with opioid use disorders are identified quickly, referred to appropriate treatment and ancillary services and resume their roles as contributing members of society.
• The presence and availability of illicit opioids in Cobb County and surrounding communities is drastically reduced.
• Cobb County is a safe community with a significant reduction in opioid misuse.
• Cobb County Board of Commissioners
• Cobb Department of Community Supervision
• Division of Family and Children Services
• Cobb Community Service Board
• Davis Direction Foundation/The Zone
• The Extension
• His House
• MUST Ministries
• Someone Cares
• Alana Recovery
• Ser Familia
• Cobb and Douglas Public Health
• Kennesaw State University
• Ga. Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities
• St. Jude
• liveSAFE Resources
• Harmony House
• Cobb County Sheriff’s Office
• U.S. Department of Justice, United States Attorney General, Northern District of Georgia
• Department of Public Safety
• Marietta-Cobb-Smyrna Narcotics Task Force
• Cobb Fire
• City of Smyrna Police Department
• Cobb County Police Department
• Georgia Drug and Narcotics Agency (GDNA)
• Metro Atlanta Ambulance Services
• Puckett EMS
• Cobb Community Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse
• Applied Research
Project News Update
The Cobb Opioid Fatality Review Project began in earnest in 2019, creating partnerships with various agencies and a networking system with the behavioral health community, all with the goal of reducing opioid deaths.
In the DA’s Office, Judicial Case Manager Latoya Inzar and Inv. Matthew Mize are dedicated to the Fatality Review Project.
“Cobb County completed its first opioid fatality review (OFR) on Nov. 20, with great participation from stakeholders and the U.S. Department of Justice,” Inzar said. “We were able to review three recent overdose deaths, and recommendations followed to improve policy and practice. As the OFRs are still new to Cobb County and the state of Georgia, our team will continue to improve the process.”
Among the accomplishments, Inzar created a treatment guide and community resource booklet of food, housing, healthcare and other resources available to Cobb residents impacted by the opioid crisis.
Project leaders have attended various trainings, and participated in Marietta Police Department’s opioid symposium in September. They regularly review findings of the Cobb Medical Examiner on overdose deaths and are engaged in mapping and analyzing individual cases.
Mize, who works to identify the drug dealers behind overdose deaths, said: “The significance of this work is that it will save lives, but more importantly, we aim to transform the lives of those suffering from addiction so that they may reach a sustainable recovery.”
Cobb’s Opioid Fatality Review Project is funded through a three-year grant of nearly $900,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice.