Nassau County Police Chief Patrick Ryder said Thursday that heroin and opioid overdoses countywide are down this year compared to last June.
At a news conference in the Village of Farmingdale, Ryder said fatal overdoses are down 7 percent and non-fatal overdoses are down about 30 percent.
At this pace, he said, overdoses in 2018 could be potentially 150 or 200 fewer than in 2017.
Though official numbers have yet to be released for Nassau or Suffolk counties in 2017, health officials estimate about 195 people in Nassau County and 400 people in Suffolk County died last year from an opioid overdose.
As of Sept. 9, 2017, 131 opioid deaths have been reported in Nassau County, and county medical examiners are still determining causes of death for many other potential cases through the end of the year.
In 2016, 500 people in both counties combined died from opioid overdoses.
This year, Ryder said police have benefitted from the use of the new ODMAP, which gives officers real-time information about where the overdoses are occurring in Nassau County.
The map also showed locations for reported car burglaries, which Ryder said shows a pattern of addicts breaking into cars for small amounts of cash or items to sell for cash because “heroin is cheap,” he said.
At a news conference in Massapequa in March, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said she was as focused on removing drug dealers from the streets as she was getting help for those with a substance abuse problem.
“We have to give people treatment,” Singas said in March. “We have to give them options. They have to have the tools they need so they can beat this addiction. Once we can curb the demand for the drugs, we can start to turn a corner.”
Singas said her office has been working with a number of drug offenders through diversion court, which gives an addict the option of treatment before prosecution. Ryder was clear, however, that dealers were not given the same consideration.
“It’s important that when we bring someone into the system that they get to the proper place,” Ryder said. “You’re a drug dealer, you go to jail. You’re a drug user, you can go to diversion court and get the resources and help that you need.”