Republican Nassau District Attorney candidate Kate Murray Wednesday called on her Democratic opponent, acting District Attorney Madeline Singas, to devote more funds seized by police during criminal investigations to combat heroin abuse.
At a news conference at Nassau Police Benevolent Association headquarters in Mineola, Murray, the Hempstead Town supervisor, said Singas should allocate asset forfeiture funds to target gangs that sell heroin.
Asset forfeiture money, Murray said, should be used to purchase police surveillance equipment, and fund drug education programs in schools and "fresh start" programs that provide jobs to nonviolent first offenders.
"The numbers do not lie," said Murray, noting that heroin-related deaths in Nassau are up by 85 percent compared with 2014. "We are not winning the war on heroin. And we must do more."
In response, Singas called Murray's news conference a "political stunt" and said the district attorney's office already funds drug-awareness programs in schools, supports job training for former addicts and produces public service announcements on heroin.
"I have been prosecuting criminals since the crack epidemic of the '90s, and Kate Murray's call today to create programs that already exist underscores just how unqualified she is to be district attorney," Singas said.
Last month, Singas announced that her office would use $585,000 in asset forfeiture funds to provide immediate treatment for addicts who survive an overdose at a drug crisis center in Freeport.
Murray said those funds were a "drop in the bucket" and that Singas' plan does not include sharing asset forfeiture funds with detectives investigating heroin-related crimes.
Murray declined to estimate the cost of her proposals.