The U.S. Department of Justice has announced a crucial change to how it will process scenes of fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses.

U.S. Attorney James Kennedy said Wednesday the change is the first of its kind in Erie County and involves preserving the scenes where an opioid overdose has occurred.

Law enforcement will be able to build a case backwards and track the dealers who are selling within the community.

Officers will be tracking such cases with the use of a program called ODMAP.

Kennedy also announced the conviction and sentencing of a Buffalo man in connection to an fatal opioid overdose in Hamburg. He said prosecuting that case was made possible because of evidence that was preserved at the scene.



Debra Smith said she welcomes the news of the change in protocol after her son, Nathaniel, died from an overdose in 2015. 
"I think it will incredibly help this opioid epidemic because there's going to be a consequence," Smith said. 
She leads the family and consumer support and advocacy program within the  Erie County Opiate Epidemic Task Force.