New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman visited Guilderland Police Department headquarters today to announce the first round of awards for the Community Overdose Prevention (COP) Program, which will provide 39 law-enforcement agencies across the state with funds to equip their officers with naloxone and train them to use the life-saving heroin antidote.
Schneiderman said the initial round of awards gives reimbursements to departments in nearly 30 different counties for the purchase of over 1,073 naloxone kits. Since the launch of the program five weeks ago, 100 law-enforcement agencies have applied for almost 3,300 kits. "We're taking the money from forfeiture money in cases where we work with the federal government and get money, much of it in fact from drug gangs. We are able to use it for law-enforcement purposes including funding police departments as we are doing here."
Schneiderman announced that the Guilderland Police Department has become the first department to receive a full reimbursement through the COP Program, which was launched April 3rd. The department has already purchased enough naloxone to equip and train its 35 officers and has received $2,100 in reimbursement funds. The AG explains how the antidote works: "It counteracts overdoses of heroin and prescription opioids by getting victims breathing again. The way you die in an overdose is that you stop breathing. This gets people breathing again. Gets time to get them to the hospital, then we're able to get people into treatment."
Each kit consists of a zip bag or pouch containing two prefilled syringes of naloxone (marketed under the brand name Narcan), two atomizers for nasal administration, sterile gloves and a booklet on proper handling of the drug. Guilderland Chief of Police Carol Lawlor: "All opiates respond to Narcan. Narcan Saves lives. Our paramedics have carried it for years, so why not our police officers?"
The cost of a naloxone kit is approximately $60, and the shelf life of each kit is approximately two years.
AG Schneiderman says "incredibly addictive" heroin is now cheaper and stronger than it has ever been... "...and some folks relate that to the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan, so there maybe some reasons that we can do very little about. It also just seems to have lost its stigma, particularly with young people."
Schneiderman has been relentless in his office's war on drugs: He led the effort to rein in prescription opioid abuse through creation of I-STOP – the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing. Initial figures indicate that I-STOP has reduced doctor-shopping – the practice of going from doctor to doctor to accumulate prescriptions – by 75 percent.
Separately, the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force has successfully dismantled a number of heroin rings around the state. Most recently, it secured nine convictions related to its takedown of the Albany-based street gang "the Original Gangsta Killas."