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Schumer: Restore fed funds to fight drugs

Senator Charles Schumer speaks about federal funding for

Senator Charles Schumer speaks about federal funding for a drug enforcement program during a press conference in Massapequa Park, NY, Monday, March 15,2010. Left is Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. Photo Credit: Photo by Ed Betz

With the price of a bag of heroin now as low as $6, the federal government should not cut next year's funding of a critical intelligence program that monitors drug trafficking in high-risk areas like New York, Sen. Charles Schumer said Monday.

The proposed 12 percent cut to the national High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program undermines efforts to battle the rising drug abuse epidemic on Long Island, Schumer said during a news conference at the Nassau County police academy in Massapequa Park. The New York area would lose between $1.2 million and $1.5 million in funding from the $10 million it received last year for the program, according to Schumer's office.

"The rash of heroin use has touched dozens of communities on Long Island," Schumer said, noting that a bag of heroin is now cheaper than a pack of cigarettes in New York. "When we heard that the Obama administration slashes the funding for HIDTA, I was shocked."

There were 46 deaths from heroin in Nassau County and 50 in Suffolk County in 2008, Schumer said. "If there's a place you shouldn't cut the budget, it's here," he said.

Established by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, the HIDTA is an intelligence and training program that provides assistance to federal, state and local law enforcement working in areas deemed to be most affected by drug trafficking.

In Nassau County, the HIDTA program is run out of the Asset Forfeiture and Intelligence Unit in Massapequa Park, which recently launched the data-mining program Operation HALT (Heroin Abuse Location and Targeting). In Suffolk County the HIDTA program is staffed by research analysts at police headquarters in Yaphank.

Doreen Ciappa, mother of Natalie Ciappa, a Plainedge teen who died of a heroin overdose in 2008, said the umbrella efforts are effective when personal appeals are limited.

"We can only do so much," she said. "When there's a war, you put more money into protecting your children."

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