Local Officials Disagree With Legalization Of Open Heroin Injection Sites

CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY – Local officials said they disagree with Congressional candidate Tracy Mitrano’s (D) idea of legalizing open heroin injection sites.
Jamestown Police Chief Harry Snellings told WNYNewsNow Thursday that resources could be used in a more efficient way for addiction treatment.
“I am opposed to them (the open heroin injection sites),” Snellings said. “I think we would do better utilizing our resources with treatment and prevention.”
In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Mitrano said that the sites can be used to curtail drug trafficking.
“We make them legal for the communities that want to use them as the vehicle to try to control drug trafficking in their area, and to get addicts into treatment,” Mitrano said. “We consider where there is a community that can manage these sites as a way to stem the tide of the illegal drug trade, because it’d be under the watch of law enforcement, and use it as a bridge to get people into treatment.”
Snellings, however, said he’d suspect the drug trafficking to increase.
“You’re having people that are engaged in the use of heroin, so I think it’d be reasonable to believe there’d potentially be an increase of drug activity or sales within that designated area,” Snellings said. “To me, that’s common sense.”
District Attorney Patrick Swanson said he also doesn’t believe that legalization of the open heroin injection sites will work for Chautauqua County at this point.
“I’m not thoroughly convinced that the solution for Chautauqua County, at this point (are heroin injection sites),” Swanson said. “The reality is, unless and until there is some evidence-based research that shows that these sites are going to assist with solving the problems of the addiction we have, I think there are better ways to utilize resources.”
Swanson, however, didn’t rule out future support for the sites.
“There may come a day where enough places have put these injection sites into place and there’s data that starts to suggest that they might be a positive thing that are affecting change,” Swanson said. “But right now, I don’t think we have that information and I’m not convinced that that’s something that should be pursued. I think there are better ways to utilize the very limited resources that we have to combat this problem.”
Incumbent Congressman Tom Reed (R) said the open heroin injection sites is an “extreme liberal position,” during a teleconference of his own Tuesday.
“I think embracing that extreme liberal position of open heroin injection sites is absolutely wrong for our future,” Reed said. “Having them in our communities as a solution to the heroin problem, as (Mitrano) has said repeatedly over this campaign, to me, shows the contrast because her extreme liberal position, versus ours, which are practical, on-the-ground, hard-worked based, evidence-based, solutions to this terrible epidemic that is occurring in front of us.”
Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace was unavailable for comment at deadline.