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NYPD orders cops to stand down, allow junkies to shoot up in streets after decriminalization measure passes

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NYPD officials have ordered patrol and beat officers to stop rolling up suspects who are seen shooting drugs on the streets after legislation in the state legislature passed decriminalizing the purchase and sale of hypodermic needles commonly used to inject heroin and other hard drugs.

“Effective immediately, members of the service should not take any enforcement action against any individual who possesses a hypodermic needle, even when it contains residue of a controlled substance,” says a directive to New York Police Department commanders issued last Friday and obtained by the New York Post.

The order to NYPD officers referenced Senate Bill 2523 which outlines the decriminalization.

“This law says stick a needle in your arm, pump your body with poison and lose your life,” noted state Sen. Andrew Lanza, a Staten Island Republican and one of a handful of New York City lawmakers who opposed the legislation. “This law says to people suffering addiction that New York has given up on you, that New York doesn’t care about you.”

The law became effective Oct. 7 and originated in the Big Apple by state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a Bronx Democrat. It was signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul last week in Manhattan.

Real estate exec William Abramson, who represents both residential and commercial clients in the city, called the measure “outrageous” after noting he has heard complaints about addicts who have gotten high on an injection of an illicit substance and have passed out in doorways or on stoops.

“Once again, quality of life in New York City continues to deteriorate because of laws that do not consider the residents and businesses of the city. We all agree that something needs to be done to help addicts. But letting them shoot up on the streets does not help anyone. This is bad for everyone,” Abramson said.

Meanwhile, The Post reports that drug overdose deaths in New York City have risen dramatically, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stats showing that 2,243 people died by OD over a 12-month period that ended March 31. The figure represents a 36 percent increase in overdose deaths from the previous year.

The edict from the NYPD to its officers also informs them that “it is no longer a violation of law for an individual to possess a hypodermic needle, even when it did not come from a pharmacy or a needle exchange program.”

“In other words,” The Post reports, “junkies are free to score needles on the black market, or to share them with other addicts, a risky behavior which creates added dangers for both the user and the wider community.

Lanza noted that sharing needles also “contravenes any logical and reasonable science based upon public health standards.” And while the measure “was passed under the guise of compassion,” the state senator said, in reality, the law is “one of the least compassionate bills I’ve seen come across the legislature in a long time.”

“There is nothing compassionate about telling people to keep doing something that is going to kill them,” he noted further.

“This law is a monument to how far we’ve deteriorated as a society in our relationship to the misuse of drugs,”  Luke Nasta, the CEO of Camelot Counseling, a long-serving substance abuse treatment center on Staten Island, told The Post. “The more permissive we get as a society the harder it is for people struggling to rehabilitate.”

Businesses owners and groups were equally stunned and angered by the measure.

“The new law is preposterous,” Barbara Blair, president of the Garment District Alliance, told The Post, adding that many members have been dealing with addicts shooting up in front of their stores.

“Mentally and emotionally ill individuals should be removed from the streets, involuntarily if necessary,” she said. “They should be placed in high-quality settings, institutional settings if necessary, where they get the shelter, food, and care they need.

“Having drug addicts, a frightful condition, freely injecting drugs and passing out in public is not tenable,” Blair added.

“Six months from now, New York politicians will be scratching their heads wondering why syringes are everywhere, drug use is up, overdoses are up, and why open-air drug markets are flourishing,” Joseph Giacalone, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told The Post.

“It makes you shake your head.”

Jon Dougherty

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