McConnell: Kentucky to Receive Federal Grant to Fight Heroin Crisis

Senator Mitch McConnell

This is a positive development for Kentucky’s efforts to fight the use of heroin that
is hitting the Commonwealth particularly hard.’

LOUISVILLE, KY (Monday, August 17, 2015) –  U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was informed today was informed today by Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli that Kentucky will be among the states that will be sharing a $2.5 million federal grant to help fight the heroin crisis in our communities.  Director Botticelli contacted Sen. McConnell to alert him to the support and commitment from the federal government for Kentucky in our growing fight against heroin. Over the years, Sen. McConnell has worked closely with Director Botticelli in drug eradication efforts, including during an April 9th visit to Northern Kentucky – one of the areas in the state hit hardest by the opioid epidemic.

The funding, being announced today, will be used for the Heroin Response Strategy, a combined effort to confront the severe heroin threat that exists in communities in 5 of the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA), Washington/Baltimore; New York/New Jersey; Appalachia; New England; and Philadelphia/Camden.  HIDTA will determine the amounts that will be distributed to each state.

“This is a positive development for Kentucky’s efforts to fight the use of heroin that is hitting the Commonwealth particularly hard,” Sen. McConnell said. “I appreciate Director Botticelli contacting me with the good news and I appreciate all he has done to assist in our efforts back home. We must use federal resources to combat this epidemic in the most efficient and effective way possible, and I look forward to our continued efforts.”

“The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program helps Federal, state, and local authorities to coordinate drug enforcement operations, support prevention efforts and improve public health and safety,” said Director Botticelli.  “The new Heroin Response Strategy demonstrates a strong commitment to address the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic as both a public health and a public safety issue. This Administration will continue to expand community-based efforts to prevent drug use, pursue ‘smart on crime’ approaches to drug enforcement, increase access to treatment, work to reduce overdose deaths, and support the millions of Americans in recovery.”

In addition to the $2.5 million federal grant, the Appalachia HIDTA will also receive nearly $400,000 to be used for programs to help prevent drug abuse in Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Virginia.

The five HIDTAs will utilize the funding to target the emergence and resurgence of heroin by sharing intelligence, analyzing trends, providing law enforcement training, and strengthening public health – public safety partnerships.  The funds will support expansion of a Drug Intelligence Officer Network in 15 states, education and training for public safety first responders, and conferences related to public health and public safety.

“One of the most salient points I have learned from studying prescription drug and heroin abuse is that multi-jurisdictional and multi-agency law-enforcement efforts, such as the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA, are crucial to our success.  I have no doubt that this new funding will enhance law enforcement’s ability to fight heroin in some of the areas, such as Kentucky, that have seen communities and families ravaged because of this drug.  In this era of limited federal resources, we must use these interagency partnerships to maximize our return from the federal dollars we spend to combat this epidemic,” Sen. McConnell added.

BACKGROUND: In recent years, Senator McConnell has worked tirelessly engaging with Kentucky law enforcement and ONDCP to increase the number of Kentucky counties included in Appalachia HIDTA, successfully advocating for Jefferson County’s, Hardin County’s, Madison County’s, and Nelson County’s inclusion. Along with his commitment to expanding Appalachia HIDTA, in this year alone, Sen. McConnell, along with Sen. Casey, introduced the bipartisan Protecting Our Infants Act in the U.S. Senate, which is designed to address prenatal opioid use and the scourge of opiate withdrawal in newborns.  Sen. McConnell also joined with Sen. Markey in a letter to HHS Secretary Burwell calling on the agency to issue a Surgeon General’s Report and Call to Action on prescription drug and heroin abuse.  And as part of the FY16 Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations bill, Sen. McConnell requested and secured report language directing CDC to work with states to enhance their public health response to infants being born dependent on opioids and suffering withdrawal symptoms, and grant certain states and communities flexibility in managing needle exchange programs.


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