Nassau County officials are gearing up for their second town hall meeting on opioid addiction, this time in East Meadow, since rolling out a new technologically driven strategy that’s predicated on tracking overdoses and crime to identify areas with a drug problem.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and drug-treatment advocates will host the meeting, slated for Tuesday at the East Meadow Fire Department at 197 East Meadow Ave. at 7 p.m., officials said.
The town hall is part of the county’s latest strategy to get ahead of the opioid scourge: identify the worst areas, hit them with extra law enforcement and drug-treatment resources and get the public involved in the process.
The latest figures for East Meadow — tallied over a seven-day period — revealed 91 arrests, 78 of which were drug-related, including four of alleged drug dealers, Nassau police officials said.
Tuesday’s planned meeting comes on the heels of the first installment of the new strategy, when on March 1 officials identified Massapequa as the hottest spot in the county for drugs.
“I wasn’t surprised by Massapequa because it’s been consistent but I was definitely surprised by East Meadow,” Ryder said. “It wasn’t on my radar. I didn’t see East Meadow as a high-crime area.”
Another tool in the arsenal for officials is the county’s new Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program, or ODMAP.
Ryder said that with the new app, officials can more easily track overdoses and uncover seemingly hidden danger zones, like East Meadow, that previously weren’t known to be hotbeds of crime.
“A lot of times we don’t see the drug overdoses, but now with OD mapping we do,” Ryder said.
The mapping strategy allows officials to detect trouble areas and identify potential neighborhoods where the added resources deployed in Massapequa and East Meadow can best be put to use. County officials will add more police in those areas in hopes of making more arrests.
An initial town hall meeting then gets scheduled where county officials tell the public about enforcement and treatment strategies. Then they will come back 60 days later to unveil the results of their concentrated efforts.
“So [we will] let the community know where we’re going, if we’ve made a difference,” Ryder said. “If not, we’ll change it. We’ll adapt.”
East Meadow is the latest community that will now draw attention from police and other county agencies, officials said.
Four drug dealers were also identified as part of the concentration of enforcement and were charged with peddling Xanax, cocaine and even liquid cannabis.
Over the past year, East Meadow saw 57 overdoses, seven of which were fatalities, and 69 drug-related car larcenies, officials said.
“This overlaying of information of overdoses, both fatal and nonfatal, can inform us in terms of where we should pour our resources whether it’s enforcement resources or getting people the help that they need, getting people to clinics, getting people to hospital to make sure that they start dealing with their addiction issues,” said District Attorney Madeline Singas.
Ryder said that despite the county’s tough stance on dealers, sellers who are also addicted will have access to treatment.
“We put them into the system and we’re going to let the courts do what they can,” Ryder said. “If they want help, they have options.”
In two weeks, county officials will reveal stats about the next community to emerge on their radar.