01.14.16

SCHUMER ANNOUNCES, AFTER HIS PUSH, NEW CRIME FIGHTING RESOURCES COMING TO BROOME COUNTY WITH DESIGNATION OF COUNTY AS “HIGH INTENSITY DRUG TRAFFICKING AREA” – DESIGNATION WILL NOW MEAN ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO FIGHT SCOURGE & HELP DISRUPT TRAFFICKING

Broome County Has Experienced Explosion of Drug Use Including Heroin & Meth, As Well As Drug-Related Crime – Broome County Has Fourth Highest Meth Lab Seizure Rate in of All NYS & Heroin And Drug-Related Overdose Deaths in Broome Have Quadrupled Over Last 5 Years

In 2015, Schumer Called on Fed. Office of Drug Control to Designate Broome A ‘High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area’ to Provide Additional Fed Resources, Expertise and Coordination to Disrupt Drug Crimes & Usage

Schumer: This Designation Will Bring Resources, Expertise & Intel To Help Broome Battle Heroin Scourge

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that the President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has designated Broome County a federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). This designation will now help Broome County address a recent and disturbing uptick in heroin usage and drug-related crime by improving coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as providing equipment, technology and additional resources that the County needs to tackle this challenge. In April 2015, Schumer pushed ONDCP to provide Broome County with this HIDTA designation, noting that, as of 2015, drug overdose deaths have nearly quadrupled in the county over the last five years and Broome County is rated the fourth highest in meth lab seizures in all of New York State. Schumer said that he is pleased to hear ONDCP has agreed, after his urging, to designate Broome County as a HIDTA in order to curb this emerging threat.

“For too long, heroin use, fatal overdoses, and drug-related crimes have been on the rise, plaguing Upstate New York communities like those in Broome County. Broome deserves every federal resource possible to combat the growing scourge of drug trafficking, and that is why I went to bat for the county and called on the feds to designate Broome County a ‘High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area,’” said Schumer. “I’m pleased that the ONDCP has finally issued this designation, which will provide technical expertise, more law enforcement personnel and the additional resources needed to combat heroin use and tackle this challenge head-on.”

In April of 2015, Schumer called on the President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy to establish BRoome County as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. According to the City of Binghamton Police Department, as of 2015, drug overdose deaths have nearly quadrupled in Broome County over the last five years, with an increase from 10 in 2008 to 39 in 2014. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Division, based on National Seizure System (NSS) data, Broome County is also rated fourth highest in number of incidents of methamphetamine lab seizures in New York State.

This designation will prioritize resources for Broome County, as well as promote greater coordination between local, state, and federal law enforcement personnel in the region.  In support of these efforts, the HIDTA program will fund intelligence-sharing initiatives, drug use prevention and drug treatment initiatives, and general support for programs that provide assistance to law enforcement beyond their normal scope of duty Schumer said there are currently 28 HIDTAs across the U.S., including one for the New York-New Jersey region; the ONDCP announcement today adds 14 counties to those existing HIDTAs nationwide.  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 noted that the goal of the federal government’s drug policy is to build safe and healthy communities, and a HIDTA designation for Broome would help supplement the hard work already being done by Broome County law enforcement. Schumer said that this designation will now be critical to Broome law enforcement, as they will now have many as resources at their disposal as possible in the fight against heroin usage and trafficking.

Broome County Executive Debbie Preston said, “We need an all hands on deck approach to combating the problem of drug abuse, and related crimes in our community and as County Executive, I have made this one of my top priorities.  Broome County’s  designation as a High Intensity Drug Traffic Area will be a tremendous resource to assist our dedicated members of  law enforcement battle drug trafficking and abuse. I thank Senator Schumer for his efforts to help push for approval of this designation and appreciate his commitment to the people of the Southern Tier. I congratulate those members of law enforcement who worked hard to prepare our successful application and will continue to support their efforts to rid our community of drugs.”

“This is a win for Binghamton and all of Broome County in the fight against heroin and other opiate drugs. The new resources and increased funding that comes with HIDTA designation will bolster Binghamton’s efforts to make our community safer. I thank Senator Schumer for driving the HIDTA application forward and our Binghamton Police law enforcement personnel for the work they did to secure this designation,” said Binghamton Mayor Richard C. David.

“This designation will improve our department’s ability to secure new funding sources to aid in our continued battle against heroin and opiate drugs in Binghamton. I thank Senator Schumer for fighting to get Broome County this HIDTA designation, and thank our Binghamton Police personnel who put in many hours to create a competitive application,” said Binghamton Police Chief Joseph T. Zikuski.

Broome County Sherriff David Harder said, “The HIDTA designation will give the Broome County Sheriff’s Office access to increased resources and critical information in our continued efforts to combat heroin and other drugs. I thank the local law enforcement personnel and Senator Schumer who worked to make this designation a reality. We will use all the tools at our disposal in partnership with law enforcement at every level to keep Broome County safe.”

A copy of Senator Schumer’s original letter to the ONDCP appears below:

Dear Director Botticelli,

Thank you for your continuous efforts to combat drug abuse throughout the country.  The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has been a vital partner to Congress as we work to curtail drug abuse across the nation.  Since its creation in 1988, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program ran by the ONDCP has been highly successful combating the epidemic of drug abuse across the country.  Today, I write to ask for help from the HIDTA program.  In my home state of New York, Broome County is experiencing a public health crisis.

The use of heroin has skyrocketed over the past several years, and is harming citizens throughout the county.  Drug overdose deaths in Broome County have almost quadrupled in just five years, with an increase from 10 in 2008 to 39 in 2014. Unfortunately, drug abusers have turned to heroin as a cheaper, more accessible alternative than prescription drugs such as oxycodone.  The low price of this dangerous opioid is driving a nationwide increase in abuse, but it has been especially pervasive in Upstate New York. Meanwhile, in Broome County in particular, methamphetamines have remained a consistent issue; in fact, of the 62 counties in New York State, Broome County had the fourth highest number of methamphetamine lab seizures in 2013. I ask that the ONDCP designate Broome County as a HIDTA in order to help curb the threat posed by these dangerous drugs.

I understand that Broome County plans to submit an application to become a HIDTA-designated county in the near future, and I urge you to seriously consider their application when they do so.  The NY/NJ HIDTA has been essential to areas of New York that have been ravaged by opioid  and methamphetamine abuse, acting as a powerful resource for counties that are looking for new innovative ways to prevent drug abuse.  The additional resources and expertise the program brings to local communities are essential in our fight against drug abuse.  In New York City, HIDTA’s work in partnership with NYC Department of Health, the NYPD, DEA and other partners has helped grow and develop the RxStat program, which has become a model for the country in how to use overdose data and other technological resources.  With HIDTA’s support and guidance, they are now working to share these ideas and approaches with areas all across the state, and HIDTA designated counties will be in the best position to use and embrace these ideas.

Again, thank you for your dedicated efforts to keep the citizens of New York and the United States healthy and safe and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

U.S. Senator

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