It is no secret that Suffolk County, New York State and the United States as a whole have a rapidly growing opioid, and especially, heroin problem on their hands. Suffolk County is frequently sited as one of the places in New York most susceptible to drug busts and overdoses. It is a complex problem that sometimes feels like plugging holes in a sinking ship with bubble gum to lawmakers and uniformed police officers charged with lessening the impact of drugs on the community.
To the Suffolk County Police Department’s credit, they haven’t shied away from trying some outside the box methods to combat heroin and opioid addiction. In April, Suffolk County Crime Stoppers launched an anonymous narcotics tip phone line to help enlist the community in rooting out drug users and sellers in their vicinity.
The tip line helped lead to the arrest, in June, of two brothers living in Mount Sinai who had a treasure trove of weaponry, bomb-making instructions, cash and drugs in their home. In July, 24 people were arrested in connection with a drug ring in Hauppauge that yielded four kilograms of heroin and fentanyl.
The success of the hotline, which has received more than 900 calls since its inception, proves that the onus is on all of us to do our part in alleviating our community’s drug problem.
The department hosted a benefit concert at The Emporium in Patchogue July 28 to raise money for rewards given to those who provide tips to the hotline that result in arrests, and it’s imperative that we continue to support this resource as it has already proven its worth. That’s not to say that without the reward money, you shouldn’t say something if you see something. Community members hold most of the power in their hands to help our officers in cleaning up our streets.
Until we as a community recognize that this is a problem for everyone, even if the overdosing teen down the street isn’t a family member, the bubble gum approach will not stop the ship from sinking.