By Abby Rogers
Maryland is lagging behind neighbors Delaware and Virginia when it comes to monitoring the sale of some prescription narcotics, and Gov. Martin O’Malley told his final pre-inaugural forum that he finds that unacceptable.
CORRECTION: At the Public Safety and Security Forum Wednesday in Annapolis, Washington County Sheriff Doug Mullendore Mullendorf told O’Malley and the room of about 300 people about Maryland’s inadequacy in monitoring the sales of oxycontin and oxycodone, which are Schedule II narcotics, when compared with neighboring states. Mullendore said he has noticed the number of people addicted to these drugs growing in past years. The other law enforcement officials in the room agreed.
Mullendore said he attended the forum in part to advocate for legislation to require pharmacists to enter sales of Schedule II narcotics into a statewide database. This legislation was introduced last year but failed to pass.
“Usually we’re ahead of the curve,” O’Malley responded to Mullendore. “I can’t believe they’re (Delaware and Virginia) beating us on a legislative thing.”
At the end of the day’s session, Mullendore said that while he doesn’t know if the issue is on this year’s legislative agenda, he got the feeling that the governor was receptive to the issue and that he thinks it will make it back onto the agenda.
“I think we’re gonna wait a while before we start rolling out the legislative agenda,” O’Malley said in a small press conference with reporters following the day’s session. While he wouldn’t say for sure what issues would make it onto his legislative agenda, he did mention concern for the oxycontin issue.
Forum attendees spent a majority of the afternoon discussing the connectivity of the state’s police and fire departments, hospitals, prisons and mental health agencies. Craig Uchida from Justice and Security Strategies, Inc. spoke about integrating state agencies’ databases into a cohesive system that all could use. He said that while it is a “monstrous task,” it’s something that could allow law enforcement to arrest criminals more quickly.
O’Malley took a keen interest in the technology discussions, listening to the group leaders and audience members’ input about how to solve the disconnect between records systems kept by the state’s various public safety departments. At his post-forum press conference, O’Malley said greater interconnectivity is the current theme among public safety professionals, but some things take longer than others to put in place.
Prior to the afternoon session of the forum, O’Malley announced that Maryland’s DNA database has made more than 2,000 positive “hits,” matching DNA at a crime scene with the samples taken from 92,000 offenders.