Metro

Baker proposes $5m pilot program to coordinate police response to fentanyl

Even small amounts of fentanyl can be deadly.
Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press
Even small amounts of fentanyl can be deadly.

Governor Charlie Baker is asking the Legislature for $5 million to establish a regional approach to fighting fentanyl trafficking.

Baker filed a bill Monday that would pay for additional surveillance work and overtime costs to enable participating police departments to coordinate regionally.

Illicit synthetic fentanyl — not the medication that doctors prescribe — has become a leading driver of opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts. The drug was found in nearly 90 percent of those who fatally overdosed.

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When police make drug arrests in one area, suspects who escape tend to move their operations to another location. Developed along with many Massachusetts police departments, Baker’s proposed pilot program aims to make it easier for police departments to work together in arresting drug dealers.

“Every city and town has illicit drug activity and often limited financial resources to address it adequately,” Dudley Police Chief Steven Wojnar, president of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, said in a statement. “The constant movement of dealers from place to place adds to the challenge of apprehending those responsible for distributing these deadly substances on our streets. . . . This program encourages the sharing of data and resources amongst agencies.”

Felice J. Freyer can be reached at felice.freyer@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @felicejfreyer