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A New Approach in the Fight Against Heroin

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The Broome County Sheriff's Office will partner with non-profit organization truth pharm and others to allow addicts to come into the Sheriff's office and seek immediate help for a heroin addiction.

The addicts can also bring drugs and paraphernalia into the Sheriff's office when they seek help without fear of arrest.

This program is inspired by one in Gloucester, Massachusetts. the Police Chief from Gloucester visited Broome County in August.

The Sheriff's Office is hoping to have it's program in place by the end of 2015. Truth Pharm says it will work to place addicts in treatment facilities. The problem is that local treatment beds fill quickly. The organization says more federal, state, and county money is needed to increase the number of local treatment options.

"The rate of death in Broome County multiplied four times in four years, which is crazy. There is nothing else that compares to it. If this were anything else we feel the County government would be responding, putting pressure on the medical community," said Alexis Pleus of Truth Pharm.

"Our Addictions Crisis Center, which is at 247 Court Street, has 18 beds and it's not enough to meet the need of the community. People can go there, ring the bell and if there's a bed, go right in at no cost to them. But the trick is there's usually not a bed," said Michele Napolitano, Executive Director of Fairview Recovery Services.

Napolitano says agencies like hers need more money to offer more treatment beds, but does say hope exists for addicts in Broome County. She feels the Sheriff's Department Program will add to the resources available to addicts.

According to Deputy County Executive, John Bernardo, there are funds in the 2016 budget earmarked specifically to fight heroin. However the county hasn't broken down the exact use of that money and is still working with public and private partners to develop a concrete plan.

Thursday at 4pm, the Finance Committee of the Broome County Legislature will vote on whether to bring a motion to the full legislature that would pledge the county's share of medical marijuana tax receipts to fighting the heroin epidemic.