The Martinsburg Initiative (TMI), the innovative partnership that has developed a model solution to the national problem of opioid addiction and abuse, has taken a giant step forward with the awarding of a $135,000 twelve-month federal grant to the Berkeley County Schools to administer the program.

    The groundbreaking program, spearheaded by the Martinsburg Police Department, Berkeley County Schools, Shepherd University, and the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Program—continues to surge forward. “Heroin prevention is absolutely critical to the long-term solution to the opioid epidemic, but to be effective and it has to start with children and families,” announced Martinsburg Police Chief Maury Richards. The MPD Chief says that, “TMI is using the special connection between police, schools, and families to build relationships that will prevent drug abuse and addiction. It’s never been done anywhere before, but we’ve started it here. The Martinsburg Initiative will become a prevention model for our entire country.”

    The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided $2 million to fund this effort. Thirteen innovative opioid-intervention programs spread across nine states have received grants of up to $135,000 in funding from the University of Baltimore’s Center for Drug Policy and Enforcement (CDPE) to undertake research activities, and support and promote law enforcement and public health partnerships aimed at reducing overdose and other harms caused by opioid use and abuse. The funding will help identify innovative solutions that move beyond traditional health and law enforcement policies.

    The Martinsburg Initiative applies the pioneering science of Dr. Vincent Felitti’s Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study through a neighborhood, school-based, and community policing strategy that begins with the family. TMI will continue to expand community

    resources and link law enforcement, schools, communities, and families in a dynamic partnership that assesses participants’ ACE scores, links them to necessary resources and supports, and connects participating students with positive adult mentors.

    The Berkeley County Schools will administer the TMI grant under the leadership of School Superintendent Manny Arvon. “The Martinsburg Initiative has provided the partnerships to assist in stopping the next generation of opioid users,” Superintendent Arvon stated. “Through education and professional assistance to families we will bring hope, stability and success for our most prized possession, our students, Arvon added.

    Importantly, the grant will support a full-time Project Director. Berkeley County Schools Social Worker, Tiffany Hendershot, has been selected to perform this vital function. During the past year, Ms. Hendershot has successfully directed TMI pilot programs at Winchester Avenue and Burke Street Elementary schools. TMI will now be expanded to include all Elementary and Intermediate schools within the City of Martinsburg.

    Shepherd University will be crucial to TMI’s continued success, conducting an on-going study to assess results, contributing volunteer interns to help run the program, and providing mentors for youth. “This is the right time and the right place to make a difference that will benefit our state, implementing this innovative model, said Dr. Mary Hendrix, Shepherd’s President. “Shepherd University is proud to partner with The Martinsburg Initiative,” Hendrix added.

    The Office of National Drug Control Policy’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Program, addresses drug-related issues by supporting and collaborating with law enforcement, treatment, and prevention partners. Last August, Tom Carr, Executive Director of Washington/Baltimore HIDTA since 1994, joined The Martinsburg Initiative’s Executive Board. Carr announced at the time that, “the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA has joined forces with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to bring additional resources to Berkeley County.” Commenting on the awarding of TMI’s funding grant, Director Carr stated, “The Martinsburg Initiative is a drug and crime prevention partnership that holds great promise. TMI is founded upon evidence-based research that clearly demonstrates how adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) significantly impact the future of our children.”