RIVERHEAD, NY – At the General Legislature Meeting on Wednesday, September 6th, the members of the Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved Introductory Resolution 1664 to create a permanent Heroin and Opiate Advisory Panel. Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker sponsored the legislation with the goal of providing ongoing guidance and input to the county in combating the opiate epidemic. The panel will take an interdisciplinary approach by focusing on preventative education, enhancement of law enforcement efforts, and aiding in treatment and rehabilitation. The ever-evolving nature of the opiate epidemic requires a continuous commitment to identify new resources and additional funding sources, and a greater focus on educating the public about addiction.
The panel will include members of the Legislature, including Legislator Sarah Anker, Chairwoman of the Panel, representing Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory, Chair of the Public Safety Committee Legislator Kate Browning, Chair of the Education and Human Services Committee Legislator Monica Martinez, and Chair of the Health Committee Legislator William Spencer. The panel will also include representatives from the Suffolk County Police Department, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, and the Suffolk County Department of Health, as well as local rehabilitation providers, advocacy groups, hospitals, and the Suffolk County Superintendents’ Association.
“Over the last decade, Suffolk County, partnering with advocates and treatment organizations, has taken steps to address the ongoing heroin and opiate crisis facing our communities. However, a coordinated, continuous, and interdisciplinary approach is needed to fully address the epidemic and implement sustainable change,” said Legislator Sarah Anker. “This advisory panel will include knowledgeable substance abuse professionals, who will work hand-in-hand with county officials to address this serious epidemic.”
It is anticipated that the advisory panel will meet for the first time at the beginning of October. Following the first meeting, they will meet quarterly and will provide regular reports to the appropriate Suffolk County committees. To aid in their efforts, the panel will conduct a minimum of two formal public hearings annually to acquire necessary information and data to assist them in developing further recommendations. For more information about the Heroin and Opiate Epidemic Advisory Panel, please call Legislator Anker’s office at 631-854-1600.