Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator for New York
SCHUMER ANNOUNCES, AFTER DIRECT VISIT & ADVOCACY LAST MONTH FOLLOWING DEADLY WAVE OF OVERDOSES, SCHENECTADY COUNTY HAS RECEIVED CRITICAL FEDERAL “HIGH INTENSITY DRUG TRAFFICKING AREA” DESIGNATION; SCHUMER SAYS CAPITAL REGION WILL NOW RECEIVE MAJOR BOOST IN FED CRIME FIGHTING RESOURCES COMING TO FIGHT OPIOID SCOURGE, STOP DANGEROUS DRUG TRAFFICKERS, AND KEEP SCHENECTADY STREETS SAFE
Last Month, Schenectady Experienced 4 Deadly Overdoses In A Single Week; With Capital Region Overdose Rates At Record Highs, And Deadly Fentanyl Popping Up Throughout Upstate New York
After Rallying With Local Advocates Last Month, Schumer Today Reveals The Feds Have Heeded His Request To Make Schenectady A HIDTA Zone, Boosting Fed Resources To & Coordination With Locals To Stop Overdose Epidemic And Go After Drug Traffickers
Schumer: HIDTA Designation Will Give Boots On The Ground Tools Needed To Help Schenectady County Combat Capital Region Opioid Epidemic
Following his personal visit to the Capital Region last month to fight for additional federal resources to combat the opioid crisis, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has heeded his call and granted Schenectady County’s request to be designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA).
Schumer explained that the Capital Region and Schenectady County just had back-to-back record opioid overdose deaths in 2020-21 and has experienced a spike in drug trafficking and overdose deaths, culminating in a horrific wave last month with 4 deadly overdoses in a single week in Schenectady. Schumer worked directly with addiction advocates and law enforcement to fight to bring additional resources to the Capital Region, and now with this HIDTA designation, Schenectady County will get the increased equipment, technology, and additional federal intelligence resources to tackle the opioid crisis.
“Schenectady County and the Capital Region has been devastated by back to back record years opioid deaths and a deadly wave of overdoses fueled by the surge in drug trafficking and fentanyl on our streets. Enough is enough. After standing with advocates last month, I can now announce that we were successful and Schenectady has been granted the critical HIDTA designation it desperately need to get the on the ground tools, intelligence and resources it needs to stop dangerous drug traffickers and help save lives,” said Senator Schumer. “We must do everything we can to stop the opioid crisis from wreaking more havoc to public health and well-being across the Capital Region and New York State, and this designation will help do just that. I will not stop fighting to supercharge funding for this program and addiction services further to reverse the tides on this recent overdose wave, and get people the help they need and fight the flow of drugs in our communities.”
Robert M. Carney, Schenectady County District Attorney stated, “I thank Senator Schumer for his advocacy for Schenectady County in securing HIDTA designation. Through this designation, Schenectady County will receive critical resources and support to combat major drug trafficking organizations operating in the county, along with the violence associated with such illegal activity. Drug dealers exploit the easy access to Schenectady via train and an extensive highway and interstate system that flows north, south, east and west through our county and the capital district. The County law enforcement and its citizens welcome the commitment of federal funding, increased sharing of intelligence, analytical support, enhanced training opportunities and even more cooperative efforts between local, state, tribal and federal partners. We are very pleased to join the NY/NJ HIDTA region. I also want to acknowledge the efforts of Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Assini who spearheaded our application and provided the justification for our inclusion.”
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. Schumer explained that Schenectady County has a population of approximately 155,000 people, 65,000 of which live in the City of Schenectady and that it’s central geographic location, and close proximity to Albany and Troy, makes it an appealing and convenient location for drug traffickers. Schumer said that Schenectady County’s HIDTA designation will directly support coordinated law enforcement strategies at all levels and will make more federal resources available to reduce the supply of illegal drugs, like fentanyl, in the Capital Region. This includes giving local law enforcement the ability to purchase key equipment, such as narcotics analyzers and other technology to combat drug trafficking at the ground level.
Schumer also said Schenectady’s HIDTA designation would strengthen treatment access by facilitating critical partnerships between public health agencies and law enforcement and grants can be used to purchase critical equipment like Naloxone kits for first responders to mitigate the number of overdoses and prevent deaths. These kits have been proven repeatedly to save lives, and in the Capital Region alone, there use has skyrocketed, proving the immediate need to increase resources that help expand the use of this equipment in reversing overdoses. In 2021, EMS in Schenectady County administered Naloxone over 250 times.
On top of that, Schumer is also actively pushing for a $3.2 billion dollars increase for the National Drug Control Strategy in the upcoming federal budget to bolster evidence-based prevention, treatment, and addiction recovery services. This includes a historic $85 million for CDC’s evidence-based harm reduction services, $63 million for SAMHSA’s First Responder Training program, and continues the critical 10% set aside for recovery in the SAMHSA Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block program. Importantly, this plan calls for increases in funding for the ONDCP;s Drug-Free Communities Support (DFC) program and the HIDTA program, bolstering the newly acquired resources which Schenectady now has access to thanks to Schumer’s support.
A copy of Schumer’s original letter of support advocating for Schenectady County appears below:
Dear Director Parker:
I am pleased to write in support of the application submitted by Schenectady County to be designated a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). This designation would enable Schenectady County and its crime-fighting departments to receive funding to fight a recent increase in drug trafficking that has greatly affected the health of the county.
Located in New York State’s Capital Region, Schenectady County has a population of approximately 155,000 people, 65,334 of which live in the City of Schenectady. Schenectady County is in a central geographical location that is convenient for traffickers. Its close proximity to the cities of Albany and Troy make combatting all crime, but particularly drug crime, a truly regional challenge. In recent years, investigations have found large amounts of heroin and fentanyl-laced crack and cocaine, and the introduction of crystal meth to the region.
With funding, Schenectady County would be able to hire 2 analysts for the Capital Region Crime Analysis Center (CRCAC) to further its efforts to combat drug, gun and gang violence, and heighten its ability to partner with the existing neighboring Albany County HIDTA, as well as Schenectady County law enforcement.
I applaud Schenectady County for its efforts to combat drug trafficking, and sincerely hope the application meets with your approval. Thank you for your consideration.
Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator