Christine CorradoJul 27, 2017, 2:05 pmJul 28, 2017, 7:01 am

Westchester forms task force to tackle opioid epidemic

Opioid fatalities in the county increased more than 200 percent from 2010 to 2015

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A large group of law enforcement and politicians converged at the Westchester County Police Academy in Valhalla.

Police chiefs, the Westchester district attorney and the county executive are forming an opioid task force to combat the increasing number of overdose deaths. What’s different with this one? They say it all begins with coordination.

According to the district attorney's office, opioid fatalities in Westchester increased more than 200 percent from 2010 to 2015.

The new task force has three areas of focus: First, it will investigate and prosecute heroin and opioid trafficking on a coordinated basis across the county.

Second, it will remove dealers by putting the best law enforcement resources in the field.

And third, it will assist local departments that lack resources and give them additional ones.

County Exec. Rob Astorino says, "We believe one of the things that sets this task force apart from the rest will contribute greatly to the success of the level of cooperation and collaboration that has been built into this sort of model. You make resources more effective when teams come together."

Another announcement was that the task force would charge a dealer with homicide when a specific drug sale is linked to an overdose death.

"The D.A.'s office will aggressively pursue those cases against dealers who are accused of funneling this poison into our community," says Westchester District Attorney Anthony Scarpino.

Officials say they are focusing on the supply side of the heroin epidemic by cracking down on dealers and not users.

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