Ed Day, Rockland County Executive
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 15, 2014
Contact: Scott Salotto (845) 638-5645
DISTRICT ATTORNEY ZUGIBE, COUNTY EXECUTIVE DAY UNVEIL COMMUNITY ACTION PLAN TO FIGHT EPIDEMIC OF HEROIN, PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE
Coordinated Regional Effort To Raise Awareness Regarding The Toll Of Drug Epidemic Through Law Enforcement, Mental Health And Medical Partnerships
NEW CITY, NY -- Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe, joined by County Executive Ed Day, today announced details of a newly developed community action plan to help battle the region's burgeoning heroin and prescription drug epidemic.
The action plan, developed in close partnership with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), is divided into three specific areas: Targeted Enforcement, Treatment and Prevention/Education.
The Rockland County District Attorney's Office has enhanced its ongoing collaboration with the DEA, the New York State Police, the New York City Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies to identify and dismantle heroin and prescription drug trafficking networks. Through the use of the latest technology, and with information gathered from defendants, victims' families, hospitals, physicians, the Rockland County Medical Examiner, social media and intelligence agencies, investigators will more effectively identify major drug supply chains and dealers. Law enforcement partners will coordinate data sharing, especially between the District Attorney and DEA, to allow a greater exchange of information and evidence in an effort to identify trends and to better direct community and police responses to specific areas.
The Rockland County District Attorney, in partnership with local treatment providers, has developed a robust response to those addicted to heroin and prescription drugs. Treatment will continue to focus on young adults, the demographic group most impacted by heroin and opioid abuse. For heroin users, law enforcement will continue to work with the courts to seek diversion and treatment as an alternative to incarceration. The District Attorney's Office, working with the Rockland County Department of Mental Health, Nyack Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, the Rockland Council on Alcoholism & Other Drug Dependence Inc. (RCADD) and other contract agencies, will provide information to heroin users, in court, for immediate treatment options and resources. Drug abuse charges will be used to focus attention on an individual's addiction and recognize a developing problem for both the addict and his/her family.
The Rockland County District Attorney's Office is coordinating specialized training on "trends and treatment," offered by the DEA, the Rockland Council on Alcoholism & Other Drug Dependence Inc. (RCADD) and the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services. With this training, prosecutors will gain knowledge on the dangers and warning signs of heroin use and overdose death, treatment options and support groups, resources and prevention opportunities. In addition to educating prosecutors, the DEA and treatment partners will offer training to local law enforcement and school districts. School administrators will be encouraged to incorporate information, specifically on heroin and prescription pill abuse, into high school and middle school health class curriculum. The District Attorney's Office will also utilize traditional and social media to raise awareness of the prevalence of prescription drug and heroin abuse in Rockland County.
District Attorney Zugibe said, "In Rockland County, residents are more likely to die from a drug overdose than a traffic crash, statistically speaking. This must change. While we relentlessly pursue the criminals who profit from the pain and tragedy of others, this community action plan will allow us to stamp out this epidemic. Our broad coalition of public and private partners will work to raise awareness of the dangers of heroin and prescription abuse."
County Executive Day said, "We can't put our heads in the sand. The Heroin scourge is impacting ALL of Rockland County. It's happening to wealthy families, to poor families. It doesn't know any boundaries. That's why it's critical that every level of government work together with treatment experts and schools to reverse this devastating trend and improve health and public safety in our neighborhoods."
The scourge of heroin and prescription drug abuse has claimed 16 lives since January, 2014 in Rockland County. But, the swift and deadly rise in heroin addiction and overdose deaths is not unique to our communities. Even though the heroin overdose antidote, naloxone, has saved dozens of lives, overdose deaths in New York State have increased nearly 500 percent since 2007.
This community action plan will link our various efforts toward the same goals - preventing our local residents from using heroin, helping treat those who have become addicted, cutting off both the supply of and demand for heroin in our region, prosecuting responsible heroin traffickers and working collaboratively to make our region healthier, safer and stronger.
Roughly five million Americans, from ages 12 on up, have tried heroin at least once, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. One quarter of them will become addicted.