Following an alarming rise in fatal overdoses in Burlington County, law enforcement has launched "Operation Safe Overnight" -- a training and distribution program to make the opioid antidote Narcan available at every hotel and motel in the county.

Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said so far in 2018, the county has seen 15 fatal overdoses in hotels alone.

"We had a dramatic increase in fatal overdoses between 2016 and 2017. And that caused me to really think hard throughout this year, and work with a lot of professionals that are fighting the drug epidemic from various perspectives on how we can save more lives, even as we are fighting it from a law enforcement and a longer term treatment benefit," Coffina said. "But in the meantime, how do we keep people alive?"

Coffina said after calling 911 and before first responders arrive at the hotel, "they begin to administer Narcan, which is very simple to administer, and hopefully get a head start on reviving somebody."

The county is also establishing a program to help addicts by allowing them to seek help at the Evesham and Pemberton police stations without being charged.

Coffina said the "Straight to Treatment" program allows people who are struggling with addiction at particular times to just walk into the police station, where they can be assessed by a professional, and be referred to a treatment program -- hopefully, immediately.

Even if a bed isn't available, the person seeking help will walk out with a plan for treatment. They can also turn over paraphernalia and drugs in their possession without being charged.

Coffina said even minor warrants can be cleared up by those seeking help.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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