Bath, N.Y. (WENY) - District Attorney Brooks Baker and Sheriff James Allard proposed an eight component plan to combat the opioid epidemic before the Steuben County Legislature on Monday. The plan covers a broad range of action, from youth prevention to additional law enforcement.
Baker says the epidemic is taking its toll on Steuben County. He says, "They're killing real people and we're losing a population of folks we can't afford to lose in our community. It's not something that just affects a criminal element. Real people with good educations and good backgrounds are dying on these drugs everyday and we have to make it stop."
Baker referred to the proposed opioid Initiative as a multi-pronged plan that starts at the youth level, including a school competition. He says, "That's something we recognize here in Steuben County. We're a rural county with not all that many activities for youth so we want to be able to reach out to youth across the county at different ages. There's the competition that would engage every school hopefully in the county at the high school and middle school level, and talking and thinking about these issues. Basically the idea is we need to change the youth culture."
Another element of the initiative includes working to break the cycle of inmates who leave prison, only to return. Baker says, "The only way to break the cycle is to take away the drug addiction. The only way to do that is through treatment and through long term after care programs."
Sheriff James Allard says the force needs more officers dedicated to cracking down on opioid dealers, as the sheriff's office is often faced with the difficult decision of what community to serve if there are multiple possible drug bust opportunities. "Literally we are having to make life and death decisions on which case to take on in that moment in time knowing the deadliness of the opioids, especially fentanyl."
The plan also includes establishing a victim impact panel, a youth court, improving upon ways to work with overdose survivors, and an in-prison treatment program.