"It's now been 44 years since Richard Nixon declared he would "wage a new, all-out offensive" on drug abuse in what many called the beginning of the War on Drugs. In Massachusetts last year , more than 1,000 people died of opioid overdoses alone—an increase of 33 percent from three years prior.
"Police departments have started to realize through the years that, from a policing perspective, what they were doing simply wasn't working," Leo Beletsky, an Assistant Professor of Law and Health Sciences at Northeastern University told The Daily Beast.
"They've tried going after people who use drugs and small-time dealers, and they're starting to think, 'Well, we're out here trying to help people—and the tools we have available are not seeming to help people at all.'"
So police departments all across the country—especially the ones dealing with a new opioid epidemic that academics believe began with increased use of prescription painkillers and cuts across all demographics—aren't waiting for elected officials to help them out."