With opiate use on the rise in the Buffalo area, as well as related overdoses and deaths, now is not the time for the Obama Administration to be considering funding cuts for a critical anti-drug trafficking program. So says Senator Charles Schumer.
The New York Democrat and senior senator from the Empire State was in Buffalo Monday to state his case for a $100 million increase for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program, or HIDTA.
So far this year, more than 35 deaths in the Buffalo area have been linked to opiates including fentanyl-laced heroin.
"It makes no sense," said Schumer of the president's proposed cut. "We learned this before. When crack began to rear its ugly head, we didn't do enough in the late 80s and early 90s."
Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said that the program provides information sharing, access to drug treatment and other important services and is critical in a time when his officers are responding to cases on a regular basis.
"We're seeing overdoses every day," Derenda said. "Our officers are responding to deaths. Narcan saved, by the Buffalo Police, probably up to 40 people."
Heroin doses, officials noted, are being sold on the street with catchy names including "99 problems," "Shine," and "LeBron James."
Anti-drug activist Ari Israel, whose son Michael committed suicide after battling his own addiction, noted at the Monday news conference in Buffalo Police Headquarters that the U.S. spent $6 billion to combat the ebola outbreak in West Africa. He suggested the president spent $6 billion to combat addiction in America.