Caride & Mosquera Bill to Help Law Enforcement Combat Opioid Epidemic Advanced by Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Marlene Caride and Gabriela Mosquera to help law enforcement better coordinate their efforts to combat the growing opioid epidemic was advanced by an Assembly panel on Monday.

The bill (A-1436) would direct the Attorney General to coordinate statewide law enforcement efforts against opioid drug abuse, which was inspired by one of the recommendations included in the State Commission of Investigation’s eye-opening, July 2013 report, “Scenes from an Epidemic.”

“As we’ve seen from many reports, the opioid epidemic is not confined to any particular area or demographic,” said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). “It crosses urban and suburban boundaries, as well as race, class and many other sectors. Giving law enforcement the tools to coordinate their efforts is a critical part of the statewide strategy to combat this epidemic.”

“Our goal with this bill is to strengthen law enforcement efforts at every level to combat the opioid trade that has gripped many families and communities,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Even though resources currently exist within these agencies to investigate these cases, coordination of those resources is key to effectively combating drug diversion.”

The goal would be to: identify, investigate, and prosecute the illegal sources and distribution of prescription opioid drugs; and provide training for law enforcement officials, physicians, pharmacists, and other health care professionals in state-of-the-art methods to detect prescription drug diversion and related abuses.

Under the bill, the Attorney General may issue appropriate directives, establish task forces, and implement other measures as he deems necessary to carry out his duties under the bill. Additionally, the bill allows the Attorney General to call to his assistance the services of employees of any state, county, or municipal department, board, bureau, commission, or agency as may be required and as may be available for these purposes.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.