Police are raising the alarm regarding the prevalence of drug abuse in a New York community after a driver high on heroin crashed his vehicle near the site of a daycare center.
James VanBrederode, police chief in Gates, New York, is warning that heroin and general drug abuse are wreaking havoc on his town, and throughout Monroe County. VanBrederode estimates roughly 80 percent of emergency calls to the Gates Police Department are related to drugs. Police dealt with several heroin overdoses over in the last week and say there is simply not enough access to treatment centers for addicts, particularly the uninsured, reports WHEC.
The situation is causing a threat to public safety, exemplified in the Friday morning near-tragedy, when a man driving high on heroin narrowly avoided crashing into a daycare center.
“He was less than a mile from his house, drove past the elementary school zone, got past that okay, then drifted off the road and knocked down a telephone pole that was across the street from a daycare center,” VanBrederode told WHEC. “You can see the potential problems this causes and that’s at 10:00 a.m.”
Officials in New York have allocated roughly $8 million to treatment facilities throughout the state and recently made the overdose reversal drug Narcan more widely available to police and emergency responders. A state Heroin and Opioid Task Force is currently exploring additional policies officials can implement to combat the rising rate of opioid-related deaths. Officials in Gates say more funding is simply not enough.
New York experienced a 135.7 percent increase in synthetic opioid and heroin deaths between 2014 and 2015.
“By no means have we seen a slowdown in this heroin epidemic,” VanBrederode told WHEC. “The lack of treatment very simply means fewer people are actually kicking the habit. I think the ideal process for the criminal justice system would be when we arrest somebody who has a drug problem … is to have the ability for the court system to immediately address the problem by putting that person into a drug treatment facility.”
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