Earlier this week, Maryland Delegate Michele Guyton of Baltimore County, visited the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (W/B HIDTA) Program to discuss new methods and programs for addressing drug and crime prevention. Delegate Guyton, who has a Ph.D. in developmental psychology, participated in the briefing with the W/B HIDTA’s Dr. Rebecca Bates, who provides training and technical assistance from the W/B HIDTA’s “A Division to Advance Prevention and Treatment” (ADAPT) to The Martinsburg Initiative (TMI). TMI focuses on addressing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in children in the Berkeley County (WV) through collaboration among the Berkeley County Public Schools, the Martinsburg Police Department, and other public health agencies.
Now in its sixth year, TMI ultimately serves as a cooperative partnership between public safety, public education, and healthcare agencies. This includes:
- Trauma-informed training that provides local law enforcement professionals with the information and tools they need to identify and appropriately interact with individuals who may have been exposed to or are susceptible to experiencing trauma.
- Facilitation of Berkeley County’s “Handle with Care” initiative, whose premise is that when a law enforcement officer encounters a child during a call, that child’s information is forwarded to his/her school before the school bell rings the next day. The school implements individual, class, and whole school trauma-sensitive curricula so that traumatized children are “Handled with Care.” If a child needs more intervention, on-site trauma-focused mental healthcare is available at the school.
- Public education for various audiences, in which public education entities identify, risk stratify, and offer interventions for individuals experiencing risk factors of trauma or substance misuse. This partnership primarily entails trauma training for the community and school staff, and the provision of resources to create positive experiences for students.
- After-school programs that provide students with additional opportunities to improve their academic, social-emotional, and self-regulation skills, and to build relationships with peers and program staff.
- Matching children with adult mentors from the community who have been trained in trauma-informed skills to facilitate safe and fun experiences for their mentees. This is part of TMI’s larger goal of mitigating the negative consequences of substance misuse or trauma.
- The use of school-embedded social workers who support students’ educational and social-emotional learning through the implementation of a variety of evidence-based, developmentally-appropriate support programs, and who also provide family support and referrals to community agencies based upon school feedback.
- Support for a “Linkages to Care Coordinator” and a Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral for Treatment (SBIRT) provider in a hospital emergency department. SBIRT is an evidence-based practice that is used to identify, reduce, and prevent substance misuse disorders.
Delegate Guyton stated, “I was excited to learn about The Martinsburg Initiative’s approach to drug and crime prevention. As a direct result of my visit to the HIDTA, I am speaking with County Executive Johnny Olszewski to ascertain how we could use HIDTA funding that may be available to replicate this program with the Baltimore County Public Schools and the Baltimore County Police Department. Especially with the tragedies our residents have encountered during this opioid epidemic, we must try new things to get better results relating to public health and public safety outcomes. Our residents deserve nothing less than the best, most effective and accountable programs.”
W/B HIDTA Executive Director Tom Carr added, “It was a pleasure to speak with Delegate Guyton about bringing some of our most successful initiatives to Baltimore County to improve public health and public safety. She was authentically interested in seeing how our programs could be replicated in Baltimore County.”