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Cops: Non-marijuana drug arrests in Northport doubled in 2014

Northport Police Chief Eric Bruckenthal stands outside of

Northport Police Chief Eric Bruckenthal stands outside of the department in Northport on June 17, 2014. Credit: Ed Betz

The number of non-marijuana drug arrests in Northport -- including arrests for heroin -- doubled in 2014, village police Chief Eric Bruckenthal said.

As of Wednesday, the police department had made 44 such arrests, compared with 22 in 2013. The department logged 12 such arrests in 2012.

"We have a big heroin problem," Bruckenthal said.

Bruckenthal could not immediately break out the number of heroin arrests versus other drugs, but he said the opiate was a large factor.

Bruckenthal cited police enforcement among the reasons for the uptick. "I don't think it's based solely on drug use," he said.

One key factor has been the influx of young officers in the past three years. About a third of the 17-officer department is made up of new hires who have been "more active" in their pursuit of drug arrests, Bruckenthal said.

"They just came in with a new, vibrant sense of, 'Let's go out and fix the world' kind of thing," he said.

The younger officers have also been helpful to the department in understanding and accessing the changing reality of drug addiction.

"When I was a very young man, I knew who the heroin addicts were," Bruckenthal said. "They were in some sleazebag hotel, or some inner city drug den or basement. That's not the case here. It's not just a socioeconomic thing. It could be your next-door neighbor, or your next-door neighbor's kid. I think our younger officers are more in tune" with that.

Heroin users in Northport are predominantly between the ages of 18 and 25, he said.

Newsday reported in September that heroin killed a record 144 people on Long Island in 2013.

Northport Police have also cracked down on marijuana usage, with 50 arrests in 2014 and 50 in 2013, according to the annual police activity report. There were 36 marijuana arrests in 2012 and 18 in 2011.

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