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April 17, 2022

Burlington County receives $1.2 million from Department of Justice for opioid response, crime technology

$900,000 of the grant funding will bolster two County initiatives aimed at providing services to those with substance use disorder

Burlington County is set to receive $1.2 in grant funding from the Department of Justice to support its efforts at improving treatment options for those with substance use disorder, and bolstering its crime technology. 

Prosecutor Scott Coffina announced the funding on April 11, noting that boosting already-established programs with additional funding and resources will allow them to have a more direct impact on the people of Burlington County, and improve the County's ability to fight crime. 

The grant was provided through the Department of Justice's Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, Substance Abuse Program. The purpose of the funding is to allow law enforcement to connect people living with addiction and substance use disorder with treatment and recovery programs. 

The $900,000 gift will provide support to two addiction response programs operating out of the Prosecutor's Office. Straight to Treatment provides free treatment for substance use disorder to anyone who walks into police departments in Burlington, Evesham Township, Mount Holly, Pemberton, and Bordentown. There are no residency requirements for walk-ins, and insurance is not required. 

A portion of the grant funding will also support Operation Helping Hand, a grant program through the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office. The program enables police to connect those they come into contact with that have suffered an overdose, had an interaction with the justice system due to substance use, or who are living with addition, to resources related to treatment. The funding will allow the program to continue for another three full years. 

Since it was originally established in 2020, 292 people in Burlington County have received help from a recovery coach and 153 people have been referred to longer term treatment, according to the Prosecutor's Office. 

"We are excited to have these additional resources to help us in our fight against the relentless substance use disorder epidemic that continues to take an unbearable toll on our communities," Coffina said. "Burlington County's COSSAP program will truly be a team effort and we look forward to working with our County partners to bring these targeted services to those in need." 

Operation Helping Hand will also be expanded to the Burlington County jail, where recovery coaches will be available to inmates while they are incarcerated and remain with them after their release. The grant funding will support children of addicted parents, particularly those involved with the criminal justice system.

It will also bolster the Burlington County Sheriff's Department and its Hope One vehicle, which provides basic community services to residents including vaccines, peer recovery, and other social services. 

There were an estimated 162 drug-related deaths in Burlington County in 2021, according to NJ Cares. There have been 28 suspected drug-related deaths in Burlington County so far in 2022. Statewide, there have been more than 2,000 doses of Naloxone given to residents in order to reverse drug overdoses. 

Nationally, there have been nearly 1 million overdose deaths due to opioids since the beginning of the opioid crisis, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. 

The remaining $340,000 was awarded by the Department of Justice to support Burlington County's crime technology. The grant will allow Burlington County prosecutors to open a mobile high-tech crime lab. This enables law enforcement to process digital evidence more quickly. 

The funding will also allow the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office to add a new Intelligence Analyst to its team to support investigations of homicides and other violent crimes. The grant is a two-year initiative to improve the County's law enforcement.