U.S. Sen Charles Schumer is proposing to combat the state's growing heroin crisis by giving law enforcement and treatment providers the tools to track crimes and overdose patterns related to the deadly narcotic.
"Heroin is ravaging families across New York," Schumer said in a telephone conference call with reporters Wednesday.
Schumer has proposed the creation of a statewide database, called DrugStat, that would include information about heroin overdoses, fatalities, emergency room admissions, crimes and the chemical makeup of drugs seized as a way to identify trends and determine how best to crack down on the scourge.
The database would be shared among local police, health care providers and toxicologists, he said.
In recent years, there have been many heroin overdoses and fatalities among young adults in the lower Hudson Valley, particularly in northern Westchester and Putnam counties.
Schumer is asking the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to help counties throughout the state by creating a detailed framework officials can use to establish the database, along with training and technical support. Counties would not be required to participate.
"I have no doubt this will be a popular project," he said.
Schumer said organizers could seek funding from grants and other federal aid. He pointed to the Hal Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program that helped New York City with about $400,000 in federal aid for similar data work.
New York City instituted the NYC RxStat database in 2013 to monitor, analyze and combat prescription painkiller abuse.
Schumer said the DrugStat database could roll out in the next three to six months.
With the rise in heroin use, Schumer also said the Senate should increase funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA). SAMSHA provides grants to states to treat those in recovery, as well as for prevention and education programs aimed at youth.