Police & Mental Health Team Up to Combat Heroin Use across Northern Virginia

Police officers and detectives from around the region participated in an innovative operation aimed at curbing distribution and/or possession of heroin on Wednesday, February 24. The program, dubbed “Operation Save a Life Through CAST” (Chiefs and Sheriffs Together) was a comprehensive effort designed to combat heroin and opiate use across the region.

The event was streamed live on Facebook and Periscope, watch here:

The following agencies participated in a variety of enforcement, education and support actions:

  • Fairfax County Police Department in partnership with the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board (CSB)
  • Vienna Police Department
  • Herndon Police Department
  • Fairfax City Police Department
  • Alexandria City Police Department
  • Prince William County Police Department
  • Manassas City Police Department
  • Manassas Park Police Department
  • Fairfax County Sheriffs Department
  • Loudoun County Sheriffs Department
  • Falls Church Police Department
  • Arlington County Police Department
  • Virginia State Police Department
  • Fairfax County FASTRAN
  • Department of Public Safety and Transportation Operations
  • Virginia Attorney General’s Office
  • Local CSBs and Commonwealth’s Attorneys’ and Magistrates’ Offices across the region

In Fairfax County, officers obtained 38 arrest warrants for possession of heroin or distribution; they served 20 of them. Police chaplains were also out in the field during the day’s events to offer spiritual support and guidance to any in need.

Arrestees were offered an opportunity to seek immediate substance abuse treatment for their addiction. Community Services staff evaluated 12 individuals and five were transported via Fastran to the Merrifield Crisis Response Center where they met with CSB professionals and began their road to recovery. The operation was halted due to weather but three individuals turned themselves in last night; each was provided with information pertaining to how and where they could seek help or treatment as part of this diversion effort and released from the jail.

In 2014 and 2015 in Fairfax County, there were an average of 70 recorded overdoses by heroin for each year, including 14 and 6 fatalities, respectively. *This is based on preliminary data and subject to change as pending lab tests and autopsies are completed. To-date, there have been at least six overdoses by heroin this year.

As for charges, heroin-related events are typically categorized under the following three categories. Here are stats for 2014 and 2015:

Event/Charge 2014 2015
Drugs-Opium/Cocaine possess with intent to distribute 66 50
Drugs-Opium/Cocaine possession 361 353
Drugs-Opium/Cocaine sale/manufacturing 193 224
Total 620 627