January 15, 2009 | 175 views
New law to combat heroin use
The law will require local police to notify local school districts when an arrest for the use or sale of heroin is made in the vicinity of a school, and will also mandate the notification of private-school principals. A new county Web site will map heroin-related arrests and sales.
First proposed by Legislator Dave Mejias (D-Farmingdale) in November, the law was signed by County Executive Tom Suozzi on Dec. 22. It is aimed at improving communication between the police and school districts on the rising incidence of heroin use in Nassau County. According to statistics released by the county district attorney's office, heroin-related arrests among teens in the county have increased by 50 percent since 2002.
Mejias stressed that the deadly drug is highly addictive, and anyone can fall prey to it. "Parents and schools need a heads-up on heroin use before it's too late," he said. "The initial signs of heroin use are not easily detectable. This law gives everyone a fighting chance to combat this insidious epidemic. Schools notify parents when a child in their district has head lice; the county should notify schools about possible heroin use and sales in their districts."
Mejias proposed the bill, named after a Massapequa teen who died of a heroin overdose last year, at a press conference before a Nov. 17 legislative session. He referenced a recent reported denial by Massapequas acting school superintendent, Charles Sulc, that the district had a heroin problem when, in fact, school officials were aware of several heroin-related arrests involving Massapequa students. Mejias said that the law is intended to inform school districts of the presence of heroin in and around their schools, and to make it clear that they can no longer remain "ignorant" and deny that they have a heroin problem.
"We want the school districts to do what they are supposed to be doing," Mejias said.
Legislator Joe Scannell (D-Baldwin), chairman of the Legislatures Public Safety Committee and a strong supporter of the bill, said, Heroin destroys lives, and it is our responsibility to protect our children from it. This bill is an important step forward in eliminating heroin from our schools.