At least 185 suspected heroin overdose deaths have been reported in Mass. since November, State Police say

At least 185 people have died in heroin overdoses in Massachusetts since Nov. 1, the State Police said today.

State Police said the agency’s homicide units had reported 185 cases, but that number did not include the state’s three largest cities, Boston, Worcester, and Springfield.

Statistics for the same period in previous years were not available, State Police said in a statement.

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But “our experience and accumulated knowledge ... indicates that these numbers absolutely represent an increased rate of fatal heroin overdoses,” said State Police spokesman David Procopio.

The 185 deaths were counted by the homicide units, which are attached to district attorney’s offices around the state, beginning on Nov. 1. The case count began in November because State Police implemented a new case tracking system last year, Procopio said.

“We are continuing to investigate and analyze the problem in conjunction with our local police partners,” Procopio said. “We firmly believe that it is a problem that cannot be solved solely by arrests, although street enforcement is vital. Treatment and public education components are equally essential. Once we are able to gather more information we will release it to the public.”

Homicide detectives at the Berkshire County district attorney’s office reported 2 suspected overdose deaths. The numbers reported in other counties were Bristol, 34; Cape and Islands, 9; Essex, 22; Hampden, 12; Hampshire, 19; Middlesex, 30; Norfolk, 15; Plymouth, 20; Suffolk, 10; and Worcester, 12.

The numbers were released by State Police at a time of rising concern about opiate overdoses and deaths in the state.

The chief justice of the trial court said Monday that the state was in the midst of a public health crisis that demands a speedy, sweeping response. US Senator Edward J. Markey said Monday that heroin was “a scourge like we have never seen before.”

Markey spoke at a news conference in Taunton, which has seen a wave of overdoses, where he was joined by the White House chief of drug control policy.