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Ithaca Mayor Wants Supervised Injection Facility For Heroin Users

By Kerry Longobucco.
Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick (D) is taking a controversial approach to the ongoing heroin crisis -- he wants to open a supervised injection facility for heroin in the city.

Myrick explained his vision for the facility during an interview with the Associated Press. He says visitors would be able to use pre-purchased heroin with clean needles under the supervision of nurses, and would not be subject to arrest. Myrick says this would help keep addicts safe, and put them in touch with addiction services.

Myrick believes it's time for a new approach to this deadly epidemic.

"My father was a drug addict. He split from the family when I was 5, 6 years old. I have watched for 20 years this system that just doesn't work," Myrick told the A.P. "We can't wait anymore for the federal government. We have people shooting up in alleys, in bathroom stalls, and too many of them are dying."

Myrick's proposal is already being met with opposition by members of the city's police force.

"I think it's important to look at our overall approach to the societal drug problem and methods for tackling the issue," Ithaca Police Chief John Barber said. "I firmly support the exploration of a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program for Ithaca, but I am wary of Supervised Injection Sites. As police chief, I cannot condone the illegal use of heroin, supervised or not."

Fox 40 will be in Ithaca Wednesday morning for the mayor's press conference, where he's expected to announce more details of this plan.