Nassau County forms opioid crisis task force

Nassau County is assembling a task force to combat the opioid epidemic, which has devastated families both on Long Island and across the nation.

"Today we are here, first, because we are not going to give up on those families, and second, because for every additional life we can save, there is another family that does not have to bury a loved one," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

The task force will bring together local lawmakers, law enforcement officials, members of the Nassau County District Attorney's Office, education leaders, and nonprofits.

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said the task force will have two goals:

  1. Identify the services and resources the county needs.
  2. Come up with a detailed report and plan of action after 90 days.

Nassau County's war against opioids includes Operation Natalie, an educational initiative named after Natalie Ciappa, a Massapequa teenager who died from a heroin overdose in 2008.

The district attorney's office recently introduced a heroin prevention task force dedicated to reducing the demand for heroin and providing information about the signs and symptoms of addiction. Those efforts, combined, have led to a 17% drop in fatal overdoses from 2017 to 2018.

"We will do anything we possibly can to work with everyone so that we can eradicate this, and never have to worry about it ever again," said Dr. Jennifer Morrison, the superintendent of the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District.

The county also has a 24-hour substance abuse hotline at 516-227-TALK (8255). It also plans to launch a smartphone app in the next month.