TBI director: More resources needed to tackle opioid crisis - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

TBI director: More resources needed to tackle opioid crisis

TBI Director Mark Gwyn discusses what the bureau needs to battle the opioid crisis. (WSMV) TBI Director Mark Gwyn discusses what the bureau needs to battle the opioid crisis. (WSMV)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Battling the opioid crisis in Tennessee will take more agents, according to TBI Director Mark Gwyn.

As Gwyn moves closer to his retirement in June, he said the next director will have to tackle how the agency is funded.

Governor Bill Haslam’s proposed plan to attack the state’s opioid problem calls for law enforcement to be more involved, and Gwyn said Wednesday that more people are needed to take on the load.

“The one thing I will tell the incoming director is the funding issue has to be addressed,” said Gwyn. “How is TBI best funded and where does it go for that funding and the staffing?”

When asked how TBI will attack Tennessee’s opioid crisis, Gwyn says the agency first needs people.

“The number of cases per agent are very concerning to me, and I don’t ever want to get to a point where agents are so overwhelmed that they start making mistakes in these cases. They’re too vital,” said Gwyn.

This year, Haslam proposed a multi-million-dollar plan to cut off access to prescription pills and crack down on drug traffickers. While it has a long way to go through the legislature, Gwyn said TBI is reaching a breaking point.

“We, quite frankly, are getting to a point where our backlogs in our forensic division are starting to get to a point that are very concerning to me,” said Gwyn.

Gwyn said TBI has made big cuts in his 14 years as director, but an audit from the Tennessee Comptroller’s office in January called out TBI for overspending its budget since 2014. The audit also said TBI has relied on reserve money to keep running.

Gwyn said the agency is working to correct problems found in the audit. 

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