Thomas H. Carr

Inducted June 2024

Nominated by Jeff Beeson, W/B HIDTA; Joseph Palamar, New York University; and Cynthia Lum, George Mason University


Thomas H. Carr retired as the Executive Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s (ONDCP) Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (W/B HIDTA) Program from 1994 to 2024. He concurrently served as Executive Director of the University of Baltimore’s Center for Drug Policy and Prevention and the George Mason University HIDTA Program. Prior to his service at the W/B HIDTA, Mr. Carr was a Lt. Colonel with the Maryland State Police and retired as chief of the Bureau of Drug Enforcement. He graduated with honors from Towson University in 1971 and was first in his class at the Maryland State Police Academy (class of 1971). He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the DEA Drug Commanders School and the Federal Executive Institute. From 1993 to 1999, he served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Evidence-Based Research and Practice:

Tom Carr is recognized for his longstanding efforts to institutionalize and infuse science, research, and data into the Washington/Baltimore and National HIDTA Program. As Cynthia Lum, Director of the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, emphasized in her nomination: “While many drug enforcement organizations focus on enforcement, Executive Director Carr has long balanced enforcement with the need for prevention and treatment, making the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA a unique leader and example in the HIDTA national program. To do so, he has housed the W/B HIDTA inside of universities for decades, seeking to both symbolically and substantively fuse the organization with science, research, and academia. In this way, he not only draws from universities their knowledge and science, but he also gives back to universities through partnerships, research projects, and job opportunities. His innovation with the W/B HIDTA in this way epitomizes institutionalizing an evidence-based approach into law enforcement practice.”

Mr. Carr is particularly recognized for the innovative data and operational systems he has developed that have facilitated both accountability and prevention in the drug enforcement arena. Over decades, he established and refined HIDTA’s Performance Management Process (PMP) system used to measure the efficiency and effectiveness of drug control efforts for the HIDTA Program. The PMP database is a repository for information about HIDTA-funded training, information and intelligence sharing, and drug and asset seizures, which researchers analyze against other datasets to better understand the effectiveness of HIDTA programs. Additionally, in response to the nation’s opioid epidemic, Mr. Carr worked with nine other HIDTAs to develop the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Overdose Response Strategy (ORS). This strategy resulted in the creation of a public health-public safety partnership and led to the interdisciplinary sharing of overdose data between law enforcement and public health agencies. Mr. Carr also spearheaded the development of the Overdose Detection and Mapping Application Program (ODMAP), a real-time overdose syndromic surveillance system used to identify spikes in fatal and non-fatal overdoses. ODMAP is now used in all 50 states to identify spikes in overdose occurrences. Further, he was the lead designer for HIDTA’s Case Explorer system. Case Explorer is a case management and event and target deconfliction system used nationwide by law enforcement agencies at all levels of government. Each of these significant innovations emphasizes the importance of a data-driven, evidence-based approach to reducing harm from the illicit drug trade and substance abuse.

Carr is also known for consistently and relentlessly seeking partnerships with researchers on projects in which HIDTA is involved. As Professor Joseph Palamar from New York University Langone Health Grossman School of Medicine reflected in his nomination: “I first met Tom in early 2021 through his role as a scientific advisor [in our Scientific Advisory Group] for our national surveillance center. I mentioned that I was seeking novel datasets to analyze with an overall goal of rapidly publishing results to inform drug prevention efforts. Tom immediately reached out to me and mentioned that he was seeking collaboration with researchers to begin to analyze the massive HIDTA drug seizure dataset he had been overseeing as director of HIDTA’s national performance management process (PMP). I thus began working closely with Tom and his staff to analyze these data.” This is just one of countless partnerships that Carr has initiated with researchers over the years. Lum notes that when she first met Mr. Carr in 1996 as a student interested in drugs and crime, he got her working on mapping drug markets using GIS (which was a new innovation in the 1990s). “Tom views incorporating research into law enforcement not as some innovation but as a regular and essential part of the everyday job. This is what makes him so worthy of the Hall of Fame recognition.”

Statement from Inductee:

I am truly honored and humbled to receive this acknowledgment from George Mason University’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy. I have had the great fortune over my career to work with and learn from so many fascinating and insightful law enforcement and academic professionals, all of whom taught me so much.

I first learned about evidence-based policing from Dr. David Weisburd and Dr. John Eck when they assisted me in building the infrastructure for the Washington/Baltimore High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (W/B HIDTA). I took what I learned from them and others to create the Performance Management Process (PMP) system for the HIDTA Program. The PMP system collects metrics from all 33 HIDTAs nationwide and calculates outcome measures to show the efficiency and effectiveness of the HIDTA Program. The Office of National Drug Control Policy uses PMP data to prepare reports for Congress. More recently, academic researchers have used PMP data to publish studies on drug trends, availability, and trafficking patterns that have been frequently cited by many researchers and covered in national media stories on the nation’s drug problem. Accordingly, PMP data is being used to develop, support, and advocate for evidence-based drug policy across the country.

Using the principles of evidence-based policing, my colleagues and I at the W/B HIDTA designed and implemented the Overdose Detection Mapping Application (ODMAP) system. ODMAP is a syndromic surveillance system now used nationwide to detect drug overdoses in near real-time, thereby giving public health and public safety the opportunity to move needed resources to the areas where overdoses are occurring. I am proud to say that many lives have been saved by providing timely and actionable information about public safety and public health.

The value of having accurate and timely data upon which to base decisions cannot be overstated. Proving that whatever intervention you are using to resolve an issue is working as intended is paramount to a leader’s success. That is the value of evidence-based policing.

Contributions to Grants, Publications, and Projects:

  • See the W/B HIDTA website for several publications, reports, and guides led and directed by Mr. Carr.
  • Joseph Palamar, Thomas Carr, Linda Cottler, Austin Le, “Shifts in drug seizures in the United States during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2021.
  • Joseph Palamar, Thomas Carr, Linda Cottler, Daniel Ciccarone, Katherine Keyes, Catherine Rutherford, “Trends in seizures of powders and pills containing illicit fentanyl in the United States, 2018 through 2021,” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2022.
  • Joseph Palamar, Thomas Carr, Linda Cottler, Caroline Rutherford, Samuel Wilkinson, “Research Letter: Trends in Illicit Ketamine Seizures in the US from 2017 to 2022,” Journal of the American Medical Association, May 2023.
  • Joseph Palamar, Thomas Carr, Linda Cottler, Nicole Fitzgerald, Katherine Keyes, Caroline Rutherford, “National and regional trends in seizures of shrooms (psilocybin) in the United States, 2017-2022,” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2024.
  • Strategies for Success, Combating Juvenile DUI, “The Police Executive: Facing the Challenges of Underage Drinking” US DOJ OJJDP, 1999.


Thomas Carr.  Photo by:  Creative Services/ George Mason University