Philly mayor signs executive order to deal with local opioid 'disaster'

The order mobilizes multiple city departments to address different aspects of the opioid epidemic with some specific first steps

Pat Loeb
October 03, 2018 - 8:06 pm
Kensington encampment

Pat Loeb/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Mayor Jim Kenney called the opioid crisis a "disaster" and has ordered the creation of a emergency response group, according to an executive order he signed off on Wednesday night. 

The order mobilizes multiple city departments to address different aspects of the opioid epidemic with some specific first steps. There have been more than 500 overdose deaths this year, and Kensington, he says, is in the midst of a "disaster."

"Clear the encampments in Kensington, reduce open-air drug sales in the neighborhood, increase arrests for solicitation of prostitution, make safe corridors to school and transit, clean up the syringes and trash from the streets and vacant lots, and more naxolone," the order read.

The initial marching orders assign a job to virtually every city department, including police, fire, homeless services, behavioral health and emergency management. All this is to be overseen by the city's managing director, who will appoint the members of the response group and report back weekly on progress.

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Nearly two years ago, the mayor established the Opioid Task Force. Though the city invested millions implementing its recommendations, such as expanding treatment and deploying overdose-reversing drug naxolone, the executive order notes, "the problems have only continued to grow, a new approach is necessary, new partnerships must be forged, and new resources brought to bear."