Cecilia DowdFeb 26, 2018, 7:40 pmFeb 27, 2018, 3:20 pm

Schumer: Police drug trafficking program ‘terribly downgraded’ by federal budget

Officials say moving HIDTA would hinder efforts to combat opioid epidemic

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MINEOLA — A program that involves intelligence-sharing in the fight against drug trafficking and deadly drug overdoses is taking a hit under President Trump’s new federal budget, Sen. Chuck Schumer warns. With the number of deadly overdoses growing every year, Schumer says the federal budget will impact a program that works to combat the drug problem.

On Monday, Schumer and several top Long Island law enforcement officials said no to moving the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, a program that provides support for intelligence-sharing and one also responsible for various drug investigation initiatives and technology, like overdose mapping, has worked miraculously well.

“One of the best tools that we have — HIDTA — in this new budget, put out by the feds a week ago, would be terribly downgraded and rendered almost useless,” Schumer said.

The federal budget would move the program's command from the White House. Schumer says it would be buried somewhere in the justice department.

“The proposal to shuffle the deck and bury HIDTA within the bowels of the justice department outside the purview of the White House would be akin to putting Long Island law enforcement on hold when they make calls and need help in real time,” he said.

Schumer was joined by the Nassau County executive, the district attorneys from Nassau and Suffolk counties, Commissioner Ryder, and Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds with the Family and Children's Association who stressed the importance of the collaboration between law enforcement and treatment organizations.

“Any cuts to law enforcement at this point in the crisis will further set us back and we'll be here next year, talking about — not 600 overdoses — but maybe 700 or 800,” Ryder said. “I'm tired of going to funerals.”

Schumer will be one of the four people negotiating the proposed budget, and he vows to return HIDTA, a $275 million program, to the place he says it should be.

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