New Jersey Gets Federal Funding to Fight the State’s Heroin Epidemic
New Jersey law enforcement recently got a major boost from the federal government, which has decided to provide federal funding to help the state combat its growing heroin epidemic.
On Sept. 29, NJ officials announced that the federal government planned to dispense more than $4 million in grants to New Jersey police as part of an initiative to target drug crimes and violent crimes throughout the state. A large percentage of the money will be used to hire additional police officers in several local police departments, resulting in more cops who are able to patrol the streets, interact with local residents and stop crimes before they happen.
On top of that, nearly half of the federal funding will be utilized to finance specific crime-fighting programs, including an anti-gang initiative and an anti-heroin task force. One of the agencies that will be receiving federal funds is the Anti-Heroin Task Force Program, which is run by the NJ Department of Law and Public Safety.
U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman issued a press release and observed that the Anti-Heroin Task Force Program and other NJ law enforcement agencies will be receiving more than $2 million in funding so that they will have “additional tools to push back against the relentless threat of drugs and gangs.”
The funding is needed because heroin overdoses have been a major problem in New Jersey in recent years. The rate of heroin overdose deaths in NJ is more than triple the national rate, according to statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While national figures showed that just 2.6 people per 100,000 died in 2013 as a result of heroin use, the rate was far higher in New Jersey: 8.3 heroin-related deaths per 100,000 NJ residents. To put this in perspective, heroin was responsible for more deaths in the Garden State in 2013 than murders or car accidents.
While NJ law enforcement has responded to the heroin epidemic by cracking down on drug distribution and possession offenses, New Jersey lawmakers are looking to make it easier for drug addicts to get the treatment they need in order to avoid committing drug crimes in the first place. Earlier this year, Gov. Chris Christie launched a new treatment hotline to assist those suffering from drug addiction. Gov. Christie also announced that the state would be committing several million dollars to programs intended to help drug offenders adjust to life and stay clean after being released from prison.
If you have been charged with a drug crime, such as heroin possession or cocaine distribution, in New Jersey, you need to make sure that your first call is to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you avoid jail time. Contact Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, LLC today for a free consultation about your case.