Louisiana Law Enforcement Train To Investigate Opioid Deaths

BATON ROUGE (AP) — With fatal overdoses on the rise, police officers and prosecutors from agencies around Louisiana on Tuesday trained how to investigate opioid-related deaths and bring the cases to court.

Attorney General Jeff Landry's office hosted the all-day education session in Baton Rouge, coordinating with the National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute.

Law enforcement officials from around the country were on hand for the session to discuss investigative tactics, legal tools for prosecuting abuse cases and the distinctions between opioid cases and other drug cases.

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Joanne Thomka, with the national training institute, said Louisiana is the fifth state to hold such a training course, joining Rhode Island, Montana, Kansas and Iowa. More than 30 states have requested them. About 200 law enforcement officials registered for Louisiana's session.

"The best way we can learn is from each other," Thomka told those assembled. "We're trying to fight this fight collectively."

Louisiana is one of eight states that have more opioid prescriptions than residents, and the state is in the top 10 for drug overdoses, Landry said. He linked the rise in opioid abuse to "the violent crime epidemic" and told training session participants that his office was "trying to bring resources from around the country to Louisiana to help you do your job."

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"The ability to stem this epidemic is going to be made through partnerships with people like you all," the Republican attorney general told the crowded hotel conference room of law enforcement officials.

The attorney general's office said it reached out to Louisiana's sheriffs, chiefs of police and district attorneys to invite their offices to the training session.

Landry's office worked with ambulance operators and a drug company to launch a website at www.EndTheEpidemicLA.org that has information about opioid abuse assistance and treatment. It's also negotiated with another drug company to make opioid abuse treatment available for free to first responders around Louisiana.

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-by AP reporter Melinda Deslatte


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