Legislator Judi Bosworth Lauds Landmark Heroin Law
County Executive signs first law in the nation that would alert schools of heroin-related arrests
Nassau County Legislator Judi Bosworth (D-Great Neck) is pleased to announce the signing of landmark legislation that requires law enforcement to notify school officials when an arrest is made for heroin possession and/or sale. The law, introduced by her colleague in government, Legislator Dave Mejias, was unanimously approved by the Nassau County Legislature and signed into law on December 22, 2008 by County Executive Tom Suozzi. This bill will combat the growing problem of teenage heroin addiction in the suburbs by improving communication between police and school officials. This law is named the “Natalie Ciappa Law” after an 18-year-old high school student from Massapequa who died of a heroin overdose at a party in June of this year.
Legislator Judi Bosworth (D-Great Neck), the chairperson of the County Legislature’s Education Committee and a strong supporter of the bill said, “I am so proud to have played a role in helping this bill become a law. Our schools are a unifying entity. All of our children, by state law, must attend either public or private school. The fact that schools, among other entities, will be notified when an arrest is made for heroin activity will serve to raise the consciousness of the parents and other members of our community to this emerging problem. Heroin use crosses all socio-economic lines and we must all join in the effort to ensure that our communities are aware of this.”
Legislator Mejias added, “Parents and schools need a head’s up on heroin use before it’s too late. Schools notify parents when a child in their district has head lice; the county should notify schools about possible heroin use and sales in their districts.”
The law will go into effect immediately and requires police to notify the school district about anyone arrested in connection with heroin possession within that specific school district’s boundaries or the arrest of a student from that district anywhere in the county. Private school principals would also be notified of an arrest of one of their students. Additionally, within the next 90 days, in compliance with the Natalie Ciappa Law, the police department will establish and implement a Nassau Drug Mapping Index (NDMI) website available to the public that will map arrests for possession and sale of heroin and include the nature and class of the arrest, the alleged offender’s age and the date, time and location of the arrest.
Overall heroin related arrests in Nassau County have increased 50% since 2002. According to the District Attorney’s office, since 2007 there have been 37 suspected heroin overdoses in Nassau County and the New York State Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse hospital admissions for opiate overdoses are up all across Long Island. Adding to the increase use of heroin among suburban teens is that it is cheaper than ever before—a bundle that had cost $150 in 2006 costs an average of $90 and, in some areas it’s as low as $70 today. The National Drug Intelligence Center lists heroin and cocaine as the most serious drug threat in the New York area. Additionally, they say that heroin use among high school students is a particular problem with an alarming number of high school seniors in the United States using the drug at least once in their lifetime.