The first time the Spy met Joe Gamble to talk about a drug crisis in the region, it was four years ago last May. At the time, Joe was heading up a homicide division as a lieutenant with the Maryland State Police and had just declared his candidacy to become Talbot County Sheriff. What made Gamble so unique in that race was that his entire campaign platform almost exclusively focused on his concerns about a looming drug crisis with a substance most people had never heard before called fentanyl.
Joe Gamble won that election, and sadly his grim predictions about the power of fentanyl were entirely correct. But it did not stop Gamble from implementing a major paradigm shift in not only the way his department would respond to this epidemic but how the community itself must take a leading role in prevention and recovery.
That was one reason that Joe, along with Tidewater Rotary’s Lucie Hughes, incorporated a nationally-based awareness campaign into a locally-driven, month-long health education initiative entitled Talbot Goes Purple. It was universally embraced by Talbot County residents and businesses, and based on its first year success has now become a model which Caroline, Dorchester, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties are replicating this September.
The Spy thought it would be helpful to start our series on the Mid-Shore Goes Purple with Joe and understand more clearly what the use of the drug has saved Talbot County’s current status on both drug overdose fatalities and how many addicts. We also discuss his observations about the community’s response to the opioid crisis and how this tragedy has impacted almost everyone in a community he has called home for decades.
This video is approximately seven minutes in length. For more information about Talbot Goes Purple please go here.