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Senators urged to restore drug-prevention funds

In a letter sent to New York's two senators Thursday, the Nassau police commissioner and county executive pleaded with the lawmakers to restore the $1.5 million in federal aid to Long Island schools next year - money that would help combat student violence and substance abuse.

Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, through their spokespeople, promised to work to put the federal aid back into the 2011 budget.

At a time when Long Island is seeing a spike in the number of heroin overdoses and heroin-related arrests, Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey said the money is desperately needed.

During the past four years, Nassau saw heroin-related arrests jump about 350 percent, according to Mulvey and Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano.

"This problem will not be solved by arresting people . . . this problem ultimately is going to be solved through prevention, education and treatment," Mulvey said in an interview.

Aides to President Barack Obama contend that federal drug-prevention money is spread too thinly among school districts to be effective, and have convinced Congress to eliminate next year's funding.

Mulvey and Mangano urged the senators to try and restore the $1.5 million to Long Island schools. Districts across New York stand to lose $18.5 million.

"When so many schools have chosen to fight, it is unconscionable to take away their funding," according to the letter.

Schumer spokesman Joshua Vlasto said the senator had opposed the cut and will "fight tooth and nail in the upcoming budget."

Bethany Lesser, a spokeswoman for Gillibrand, said the senator vouched to do the same.

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