For immediate release:
May 18, 2015

Erin Montgomery
Shareese Churchill

Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford Hosts Western Maryland
Heroin Task Force Regional Summit

Summit Covers Garrett, Allegany, Washington, Frederick Counties

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford today joined with members of the Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force, elected officials, law enforcement, and substance abuse advocates for the fourth regional summit to address Maryland’s growing heroin crisis. The summit was held in Hagerstown at the Hager Hall Conference and Event Center.

The Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force, created by Governor Larry Hogan in February 2015 with two executive orders and led by Lt. Governor Rutherford, is made up of law enforcement professionals, elected officials, and substance abuse experts. The group will meet regularly and solicit input and guidance from a wide variety of sources throughout the state, including educators, families of those suffering from addiction, and other vested stakeholders.

“Throughout our campaign the governor and I visited every corner of the state, and everywhere we went, we heard tragic stories of how the heroin and addiction epidemic is destroying families and communities,” said Lt. Governor Rutherford. “This is a problem that affects Marylanders of all walks of life, regardless of socio-economic status, race, religion, education or any other demographic. The first step to combatting this epidemic is to hear firsthand from those affected about how this crisis has impacted their communities, and getting their educated recommendations on what we can do.”

In 2013, heroin-related overdose deaths (464) outnumbered homicides (387), a 95% increase in heroin-related overdose deaths since 2010. Preliminary findings for 2014 show overall heroin-related overdose deaths have continued to rise and will outpace those in 2013 by approximately 20 percent. There is growing evidence that many new heroin addictions stem from the abuse of prescription painkillers. Once addicted to these opioids, individuals may switch to increasingly cheap and “available” heroin.

Garrett County Commissioner President Paul Edwards and State’s Attorney Lisa Thayer Welch, Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine and Sheriff Craig Robertson, Washington County Commissioner President Terry Baker and Sheriff Douglas Mullendore, and Frederick County Executive Jan Baker and State’s Attorney J. Charles Smith were in attendance and provided testimony to the task force.