BALDWIN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone are rolling out a new joint task force to combat heroin on Long Island.
Candles marked the hundreds of tragic losses, while victims of heroin joined with educators and police commissioners from both Nassau and Suffolk to pledge a new approach. Because until now, little has helped.
The new task force will trace every overdose back to the source, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported. Detectives from both counties will also be responsible for hunting down heroin dealers.
Nearly 40 percent more people died of heroin overdoses last year than the year before, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.
“The Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, we’ve been open for 60 years. We’ve never been as busy as in the last five,” said Steve Chassman, executive director for the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.
He said more also needs to be done to get people to treatment.
“Individuals have a near death experience, they’ve had a police encounter or an EMT encounter and they’re being allowed to go to ERs and then they just walk out,” he said.
“Heroin abuse is starting at a younger age. It’s hard to say we are winning anything,” Timothy Sini, Suffolk County police commissioner, told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
Each county is tapping four detectives and a supervisor, along with a federally funded intelligence analyst, to track every overdose to its supplier.
With suburban heroin use exploding, CBS2 has spotlighted the scourge for years, covering the devastation to families and the spawning of a new generation of desperate addicts turned to crime. The death toll is only climbing.
“This is our future, these are bright articulate wonderful kids and it’s a nightmare… all young people laying in a casket,” Debi Benesaraf, the mother of an imprisoned addict, told CBS2.
Ten years into the crisis, the head of Long Island’s Family and Children’s Association said the war must be better waged on the prevention and treatment front.
“We are not doing enough of that, people are dying on waiting lists trying to get treatment,” Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds said.
Officials from both counties said the collaboration could be a turning point. Working together, they said, is always better.
1010 WINS is a partner in Thursday’s summit in Baldwin that brings together law enforcement, educators, health officials and families to discuss the latest treatments and other community initiatives.