Westchester law enforcement tries new approach to fight opioid epidemic

Posted: Updated:
PORT CHESTER -

Westchester law enforcement has long fought the opioid epidemic by incarceration, but now local authorities are trying a new approach.

Instead of prosecuting opioid users, they will help them get addiction treatment.

At a news conference Monday, District Attorney Anthony Scarpino announced a drug intervention pilot program that started in Port Chester in April.

"We had a yearlong investigation into the fatal heroin overdoses conducted by the Port Chester Police Department in collaboration with the Greenwich Police Department and our investigations division, their prosecutors and the criminal investigators,” said Scarpino.

Scarpino says the investigation not only revealed the drug suppliers, but also dozens of users via wiretap. He says about 30 Port Chester purchasers were either connected with or reconnected with support services, including assessment, detox, in-patient and out-patient services. They also helped another 10 people from Greenwich who crossed into Port Chester to buy drugs.

"Hopefully there are people in the community who may not be involved with a criminal involvement, but now knows there is some hope out there...speak to an officer and actually get the help that they need,” says

Michael Orth, commissioner of the Westchester Department of Community Mental Health.

Due to the program’s success, they plan to expand to other communities in the county.

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