Trooper Cavanagh: Gagging NHK must be stopped

By the police unions, it is the officers who have been put in the crosshairs by Governor Andrew Cuomo. It is the police departments that have been forced to keep using outdated drug testing…

Trooper Cavanagh: Gagging NHK must be stopped

By the police unions, it is the officers who have been put in the crosshairs by Governor Andrew Cuomo. It is the police departments that have been forced to keep using outdated drug testing processes despite the growing acceptance of naloxone treatment.

Unrealistic—and dangerous—for police to unilaterally implement the policies in a single way without approval of local law enforcement leaders.

Why do I find these claims so concerning?

It is very clear that New York is in a state of crisis with a growing opioid epidemic that is killing thousands of New Yorkers every year and creating havoc across New York City. Those who work in the trenches are responding and responding well.

However, there is still a significant lack of comprehensive policing information from Governor Cuomo. No information about the number of state-mandated Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) facilities that have opened in New York.

No information about the city of New York’s total number of mandated MAT facilities – or how many these facilities have currently opened or currently in the pipeline.

Moreover, no information about the number of deaths that have been directly related to Medication Assisted Treatment – and also no information on when the state received all the remaining databases on Medication Assisted Treatment reporting.

I, for one, am not willing to sign off on the approval of Medication Assisted Treatment to be policed by a rogue police department in New York State. That is especially true when our governor still has only one database, which has had much less than 2 years of continuous open access, even after years of the previous administration or Governor Paterson creating it.

I believe that the information shared with the outside world about Medication Assisted Treatment centers should be aggregated, analyzed and made available on an ongoing basis, not just one isolated snapshot report that then becomes a backlog for law enforcement – for the state and for New York City.

I applaud Gov. Cuomo for opening six New York-based centers that will provide staff and technology to the fourteen already existing MEDICAL ASSISTED TREATMENT CLINICS in New York State.

However, the creation of the administrative center in the State Department of Health ignores the fact that its presence in health is a parallel system that does not share information that is vital for police to understand. New York has had nothing more than a dialogue that has been too late, too full of doubt, and has been held up by the lack of cooperation from the pharmaceutical industry.

Rather than wait for more oversight from the state, New York needs to ensure that members of our state police do not get left out in the cold without proper resources, training, or oversight of their responsibilities to communities.

Last year, a local police agency in upstate New York announced its intention to enforce newly enacted law which requires a weekly staff check of newly certified staff at new MEDICAL ASSISTED TREATMENT facilities.

But what if the treatment itself is a Medication Assisted Treatment facility?

If the state wants to give this information to law enforcement, then its refusal to share it with local law enforcement agencies is absurd.

With 29 states and five cities currently mandating such drug testing facilities on a regular basis, not requiring local law enforcement to do what most towns and cities already do, is unprecedented.

The oversight of the organization to which this limited information has been passed is wholly unsatisfactory, and I am not willing to sign off on this proposed state approach. In fact, more oversight is needed from the New York State Assembly before a regulation can become law.

I just want this to be cleared up and be helpful to local police departments and communities. I am also trying to move past the policy arguments surrounding use of Narcan – a nasal spray drug that is administered to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose – and utilize this information to tell the story of both the power of this medical intervention to save lives and the harm that other laws could be having on our communities.

I am asking all New Yorkers for help in making sure local police and local law enforcement that is still willing to support the drug laws in our communities and to educate the public.

Ralph Cavanagh is the Executive Director of the New York State Police Benevolent Association and the President of the New York State Police Union Chapter, 782

Leave a Comment