The Ocean County prosecutor’s office wants high school students in the New Jersey district to report crimes using their smartphones.
The office is encouraging use of an tool called MyPD to submit tips about drug abuse anonymously.
This month, 18,000 students will find a sticker in their locker pointing them to the online app, which authorities set up a few months ago. It’s part of a larger effort to respond to the county’s heroin epidemic and an alarming rate of fatal overdoses, according to Al Della Fave with the prosecutor’s office.
They’re particularly targeting high school-age teens with the technology as well as meetings and forums.
“Many of the deaths are in the age range from 20 to 28 years of age. There’s no way to reach those folks,” Della Fave said. “They’re already gone, and so we’re trying to reach the school kids before they graduate, to hopefully educate them and raise awareness in terms of the danger.”
Besides the educational campaign, earlier this year, officers in Ocean County started carrying Narcan, a drug that can counteract opioid overdose. County authorities have also brought drug-sniffing dogs into schools.
The rate of overdose deaths in the county has dropped by half to 40 from more than 80 overdoses by this time last year, Della Fave said.