NEW HANOVER COUNTY — In response to the ongoing opioid epidemic, a new coalition formed by local government agencies has commissioned a series of public service announcements.
The Criminal Justice Advisory Group (CJAG) of New Hanover County is guided by leaders from the district courts and attorney’s office, as well as county and city leaders. According to Chief Communications Officer, Ruth Ravitz Smith, one of the first things CJAG did in response to the epidemic was to task her team with creating the PSAs.
“We had a very quick turnaround on these,” Smith said. “It was just three or four weeks ago, and we were able to roll this first one out in time for the SEAHEC event.”
Read our series: Opioids in the Cape Fear: ‘One of the most frightening issues of our time’
The South East Area Health Education Center (SEAHEC) event, held on Monday in conjunction with New Hanover Regional Medical Center, focused on community responses to the opioid crisis; the county’s six-part PSA series will also focus on community.
According to Smith, “we’ll be exploring both how communities are impacted, what District Attorney Ben David calls the ripple effect.”
Smith added, “this first PSA will address how the crisis is affecting different parts of our community. Future PSAs will address solutions, so, don’t worry, we won’t leave people hanging.”
The first part of the series is a four-minute production, featuring leaders of county and city law enforcement, government and healthcare. Future episodes will be shorter, Smith said, about 30-6o second pieces that will explore different aspects of the crisis.
The PSAs were produced by Smith’s team at the New Hanover County Office of Communications and Outreach.
“We did all this in house,” Smith said. “I’ve been blessed with a very talented team. They have a lot of technical skill and know-how and they’ve done beautiful work.”
Smith’s office will release one PSA a month, concluding in September with SEAHEC’s fall event.
“I can give you a little sneak peak,” Smith said. “The next one will deal with breaking the denial of the epidemic and humanizing the crisis.”