04.10.15

SCHUMER: WAR ON DRUGS IS RAGING IN BROOME COUNTY AND THE FEDS NEED TO GET MORE INVOLVED – SENATOR LAUNCHES PUSH TO DESIGNATE BROOME AS HIGH-INTENSITY DRUG TRAFFICKING AREA, WHICH WILL MEAN ADDITIONAL RESOURCES, INTELLIGENCE, AND COORDINATION TO HELP DISRUPT TRAFFICKING; EFFORT HAS BEEN EFFECTIVE IN OTHER NEW YORK AREAS

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

 

Schumer Calls on Fed. Office of Drug Control to Designate Broome County A ‘High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area,’ Which Will Provide Much-Needed Resources to Help County Address Growing Drug Problem

 

Schumer: Broome County Law Enforcement is Tirelessly Fighting Drug & Heroin Epidemic; Feds Must Provide Money, Expertise & Intel

 

Today, at the Broome County Public Safety Facility, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged the President's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to designate Broome County as a federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which will help the county address the recent and disturbing uptick in meth and heroin usage along with other drug-related crime by improving coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, as well as providing equipment, technology and additional resources to tackle this challenge. Schumer cited various facts and figures that demonstrate how widespread the drug trafficking and abuse problem is in Broome County, including the fact that drug overdose deaths have nearly quadrupled in the county over the last five years and Broome County is now rated the fourth highest in meth lab seizures in all of New York State. As a result, Schumer urged ONDCP to designate Broome County as a HIDTA in order to help curb this emerging threat.

 

“We have been losing too many of our young people to the scourge of drug abuse for far too long. Broome County in particular has seen a rise in meth use and heroin-related crime that is beyond alarming. The numbers have jumped, especially among kids aged 18 to 24, and that’s a trend we need to reverse now,” said Senator Schumer. “So I am calling on the feds to designate Broome as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area to dispense more resources, technical expertise and law enforcement personnel, to combat heroin use. The victims of heroin use are too often our children. More must be done to curtail the spike in heroin use and rescue more Broome County residents from the bane of drug addiction.”

 

During his visit, Schumer called on the President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to establish Broome County as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). The designation would prioritize funding and other resources for Broome County, as well as promote greater coordination between local, state, and federal law enforcement personnel in the region.

 

Schumer was joined by Binghamton Mayor Rich David, Broome County Executive Debbie Preston, Acting Police Chief William Yaeger and Captain Jack Collins from the Binghamton Police Department, Captain Fred Akshar from the Broome County Sheriff’s Office and Chief Brent Dodge from the Johnson City Police Department

 

“Over the last several years, heroin and other opiate drugs have taken a tragic hold on members of our community. Fighting back requires an increased focus and new resources. I support Senator Schumer’s efforts to land more federal funding and promote coordination with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies on this issue,” said Binghamton Mayor Richard C. David.

 

“The Binghamton Police Department must stay proactive in combating the heroin and opiate epidemic. A HITDA designation will open the door for priority status in funding initiatives that fight this devastating trend. BPD must work to stay ahead of the curve, and the HITDA program would do just that,” said Acting Binghamton Police Chief William P. Yeager.

 

“The Broome County Sheriff’s Office has been pro-actively fighting heroin and other drugs by partnering with other local law enforcement agencies.  That’s government working together – the way it should be.  The Broome County Drug Task Force needs the assistance of the federal resources in further combating the heroin problem,” said Broome County Sheriff David E. Harder.

 

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 21 counties in New York that are part of the NY/NJ HIDTA, and Schumer wants Broome 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 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 it is critical for Broome law enforcement to have as many resources at their disposal as possible in the fight against heroin usage and trafficking. According to the City of Binghamton Police Department, 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.

 

Schumer also mentioned a number of recent high-profile drug busts in Broome County that underscore the need for continued vigilance and additional resources. In the last two weeks alone, the Broome County Special Investigations Unit Task Force, a collaboration between the Broome County Sheriff’s Office Detective Division, City of Binghamton, Village of Johnson City and Village of Endicott Police Departments, conducted two significant confiscations of heroin. Last month while executing a search warrant at a residence in the City of Binghamton, the Special Investigations Unit Task Force discovered over 130 bags of Heroin along with other drug related paraphernalia.. Just this week, the same task force recovered 291 bags of heroin along with other related items during a search at a Johnson City motel.

 

Schumer noted his push is aimed at curbing the supply of drugs, but he said it is also important to address the demand for drugs 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 with this as well. ONDCP and HIDTA grant funds are being used across the country for local governments to purchase and become educated in the use of Naloxone kits, and designating Broome as a HIDTA county will help provide additional support for present programs already in place.

 

A copy of Senator Schumer’s 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

United States Senator

 

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