New York, NY - March 3, 2014 - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the Community Overdose Prevention (COP) program, which will enable every state and local law-enforcement officer in the state of New York to carry naloxone, the extremely effective heroin antidote that can instantly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. COP will provide funding to equip each state or local officer with naloxone, known under the brand name Narcan, and train the officers to properly administer the life-saving drug.
Last month, United States Attorney General Eric Holder encouraged law-enforcement agencies throughout the United States to “train and equip their personnel” with naloxone. This call comes in the wake of a marked increase in heroin abuse throughout New York and the United States. Opioid overdoses killed over 2,000 New Yorkers in 2011, more than double the number killed in 2004. Across the country, fatal heroin doses increased 45% from 2006-2010. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that these numbers are still on the rise.
“Heroin is destroying our communities, and it’s time we looked at broader solutions to fight back,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Naloxone is stunningly effective at stopping an overdose in its tracks, and putting this powerful antidote in the hands of every law-enforcement agent in the state will save countless lives. With I-STOP, we’ve managed to reduce doctor-shopping in New York and turn off one spigot in the drug crisis — now, we can turn our focus to the scourge caused by heroin. It’s particularly fitting that these efforts will be funded by money seized from drug dealers.”
The Attorney General’s office has identified $5 million in joint federal-state criminal and civil forfeiture money that will be used to fund COP, which is enough to equip and train every state and local officer in New York with a naloxone kit. Each kit consists of a zip bag or pouch containing two prefilled syringes of naloxone, two atomizers for nasal administration, sterile gloves and a booklet on the use of the drug. The cost of a naloxone kit is approximately $60, and the shelf life of each kit is approximately two years.
The Attorney General’s office will be sending a letter this week to every state and local law-enforcement agency making them aware of the program and encouraging them to participate. Upon purchase of the kits and/or upon payment for training costs, police departments or appropriate county or city agencies will submit receipts to the Attorney General’s office and be reimbursed in full. Some agencies already have partial naloxone programs in place and, in those instances, COP will allow for an expansion of these programs.
The success of naloxone in combatting opioid overdoses cannot be overstated. Since the fall of 2010, the police department of Quincy, Massachusetts, the first department in the nation to require its officers to carry naloxone, has used the drug 221 times and successfully reversed 211 overdoses (as of February), a success rate of over 95%. In New York’s Suffolk County, 563 lives were saved last year alone.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, "I thank Attorney General Schneiderman for securing funding to purchase Naloxone for all police personnel in the State and ensuring that all personnel will be trained in the the administration of Naloxone. Last year alone, between our police personnel and our EMTs, Suffolk County administered Naloxone 594 times saving the lives of those who would have otherwise overdosed. As heroin use continues to rise, we need to engage in a multi-pronged approach to address the epidemic and A.G. Schneiderman is now going to be able to assist municipalities throughout the State in tackling widespread heroin use."
Nassau County District Attorney and Co-Chair of Nassau County’s Heroin Prevention Task Force Kathleen Rice said, "There's no question that this program will save lives and it's great news that local communities will be getting this help through the Attorney General's office. Together with pending legislation and local prevention measures taken by offices like mine and our partners in the medical community, we are all focused on preventing tragedies in the future."
Richard Carey, Deputy Director, New York State Association of Chiefs of Police,said, “The New York State Association of Chiefs of Police applauds the New York State Attorney General’s office for pursuing a project to provide all law enforcement officers in New York State with Naloxone along with the training to properly deploy it across the state. The dramatic increase in heroin overdoses clearly makes the deployment of Naloxone an outstanding public safety effort.”
Scott S. Coyne, M.D., Chief Surgeon/Medical Director, Suffolk County Police Department, said, "The Suffolk County Police Department has experienced unparalleled success with Pilot Project Intranasal Narcan Program, having administered Nasal Narcan almost 200 times resulting in successful reversals of life threatening opiate overdoses in 184 victims. The Community Overdose Prevention (COP) Program is a milestone initiative which will extend this critical tool throughout New York State as we continue to battle the opiate overdose epidemic."
Chief David J. Hegermiller of the Riverhead Police Departmentsaid, "The Riverhead Police Department has been very interested in equipping its officers with Narcan to instantly reverse the effects of a Heroin overdose. Most of the time, we are first on the scene of a drug overdose. Having the ability now to possibly save that life is great! Thanks to the New York State Attorney General for making the antidote and training available to every officer in New York."
Binghamton Police Chief Joseph Zikuski said, “In many instances, our officers are first on the scene to an overdose call. Seconds matter and we are now better equipped to respond to these cases that are, unfortunately, on the rise.”
Newburgh Chief Of Police Michael D. Ferrara said, “Response time and actions taken are imperative in many drug overdose calls. It could mean the difference between life and death. Emergency responders trained and equipped with the possibility of reversing an opioid overdose before death would be a major accomplishment in saving lives.”
Dr. Jeffrey L. Reynolds, Ph.D., CEAP, SAP Executive Director L.I. Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence (LICADD) Open Arms Employee Assistance Program,said, "I can't think of a better use for forfeiture funds, especially as record numbers of young New Yorkers are losing their lives to overdose. This initiative will save lives and create new opportunities for families to experience the miracle of addiction recovery. We, at LICADD continue to applaud the wide-ranging and tireless efforts of Attorney General Schneiderman in addressing our state's opiate crisis from multiple angles."
Angie Ruhry, Parent of son who was revived with Narcan,said, "In the midst of this epidemic that our country is living through it is so wonderful to know that we will all have easier access to the one powerful tool that can help to save lives: Narcan!"
Jeremy Travis, President of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice,said, “I applaud Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for his leadership in creating the COP initiative. This approach, grounded in evidence-based practice, will enhance public safety and prevent needless deaths as a result of drug abuse. Using forfeiture money to support law enforcement across the State in training and equipping them with naloxone, a safe and non-abusable substance, is smart public policy."
Gabriel Sayegh, State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said, "Thank you A.G. Schneiderman for launching the nation’s first state-wide naloxone access program for law enforcement. This program will save lives and catalyze additional action in our state and across the country for addressing the overdose crisis with smart, health-based innovations."
Since taking office, Attorney General Schneiderman has been extremely aggressive in combatting the scourge of heroin in New York. He led the effort to rein in prescription opioid abuse by passing unanimous legislation to create 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% in just the first year.
On the criminal side, I-STOP has led to the prosecution of several doctors who willingly participate in doctor-shopping. Separately, the Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force has successfully dismantled a number of heroin rings around the state. Most recently, OCTF secured nine convictions related to its takedown of a home-grown, Albany-based street gang called the Original Gangsta Killas.