DURING IN-PERSON MEETING, SCHUMER URGES ACTING DIRECTOR OF OFFICE OF NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL POLICY TO GRANT OSWEGO COUNTY’S REQUEST TO BE DESIGNATED A HIGH INTENSITY DRUG TRAFFICKING AREA; SENATOR SAYS DESIGNATION WILL MEAN ADDITIONAL RESOURCES, INTELLIGENCE, AND COORDINATION TO HELP DISRUPT TRAFFICKING
Oswego County Has Seen A Rise In Drug Trafficking & Overdose Deaths In Recent Years; Oswego County Law Enforcement Needs Additional Support to Beat Back Scourge
Schumer Calls On Fed. Office Of Drug Control Policy To Designate Oswego County A ‘High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area,’ Which Will Provide Much-Needed Resources To Help County Address Growing Drug Problem
Schumer: We Must Provide Money, Expertise & Intel To Help Oswego County Battle Heroin Scourge
Recently, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, during an in-person meeting with Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) James Carroll, urged him to grant Oswego County’s request to be designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). Schumer explained that Oswego County has recently experienced a spike in drug trafficking and overdose deaths, negatively affecting the health and well-being of residents, and that this HIDTA designation would improve coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, in addition to providing Oswego with the equipment, technology and additional resources to tackle this challenge. Last month a coalition of Oswego County law enforcement submitted a request to ONDCP to be designated as a HIDTA and is awaiting their decision.
“In my meeting with Acting Director Carroll, I made it clear that Oswego County, like many others in Upstate New York, has been devastated by the scourge of drug trafficking. While local law enforcement has been working diligently to combat the growing problem, they need more federal support,” said Senator Schumer. “The HIDTA designation, if granted by ONDCP, would provide Oswego County law enforcement with additional resources, manpower and intelligence to combat drug trafficking. So I am asking Acting Director Carroll to approve Oswego County’s request ASAP.”
The HIDTA program funds intelligence-sharing initiatives, drug use prevention and drug treatment initiatives, as well as general support for programs that provide assistance to law enforcement beyond their normal scope of duty. The New York/New Jersey HIDTA is one of 28 HIDTAs nationwide, which include approximately 16 percent of all counties in the United States and 60 percent of the U.S. population. There are currently 25 counties in New York that are part of the NY/NJ HIDTA, and Schumer wants Oswego County to be added. Each HIDTA assesses the drug trafficking threat in its defined area for the upcoming year, develops a strategy to address that threat, designs initiatives to implement the strategy, proposes funding needed to carry out the initiatives, and prepares an annual report describing its performance the previous year.
Schumer added, “HIDTA is a critical program that I have long fought to protect. It has provided both millions of dollars and invaluable direct federal support for Upstate New York’s intelligence-sharing and drug investigation initiatives, and additionally helps improve efficiency among law enforcement.”
The petition for Oswego County to be designated a HITDA was made by a coalition of local law enforcement: the Oswego County District Attorney’s Office, Oswego City Police Department, Oswego County Sheriff’s Department, the County Drug Task Force, and SUNY Oswego Police.
Schumer said that Oswego County has a population of 122,000 and that its geographical location in Upstate New York makes it an appealing and convenient location for drug traffickers. Additionally, Schumer explained that recently, the county has been ravaged by opioids, especially dangerous drugs like fentanyl-laced heroin, which have negatively impacted Oswego’s college students and communities, and yielded an elevated rate of overdoses. Schumer praised Oswego County and local law enforcement for their commitment and effort to fight the ongoing drug trafficking scourge in the area but added that the lack of funding and resources has made their job significantly more challenging. Schumer said that, specifically, a HIDTA designation for Oswego County would give local law enforcement the ability to purchase key equipment, such as GPS units, investigation equipment, and TruNarc Handheld Narcotics Analyzers. According to Schumer, these devices would both help protect officers, and help increase their ability to combat drug trafficking at the ground level.
Under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 and the ONDCP Reauthorization Act of 2006, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is authorized to declare areas that exhibit serious drug trafficking problems as HIDTAs if local law enforcement groups petition for the designation. Many counties in Upstate New York are already HIDTA-designated counties, meaning that they receive federal resources to combat drug trafficking and sales. The purpose of HIDTA is to reduce drug trafficking and production in the United States. The program’s goal is to facilitate cooperation among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies; to share information and implement coordinated enforcement activities; to enhance intelligence sharing among law enforcement agencies as well as public health officials; to facilitate the design of effective enforcement strategies; and to support coordinated law enforcement strategies that make the most of available resources to reduce the supply of illegal drugs in the U.S.
Schumer noted his push is aimed at curbing the supply of drugs, but he said it is also important to address the demand in order to stem the tide of this epidemic. Schumer said that treatment is also an important part of the solution, and a HIDTA designation can help strengthen treatment access by facilitating critical partnerships between public health agencies. ONDCP and HIDTA grant funds are being used across the country for local governments and public health officials to improve overdose reporting so that they can mobilize their public health response, including the purchase of and education on Naloxone kits, in order to mitigate the number of overdoses and prevent deaths. Designating Oswego as a HIDTA county will help provide additional support for present programs already in place.
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