Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Marlene Caride, Gabriela Mosquera, Nancy Pinkin and Paul Moriarty to help law enforcement better coordinate efforts to combat the state’s growing opioid epidemic has received final legislative approval and now heads to the governor’s desk.
“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.”
The bill (A-1436) would direct the attorney general to coordinate statewide law enforcement efforts against opioid drug abuse. The measure was inspired by one of the recommendations included in the State Commission of Investigation’s eye-opening July 2013 report, “Scenes from an 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 measure seeks 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.
“Drug abuse is destroying communities throughout our state, and we have a collective duty to be proactive about combating the issue,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “This legislation is about stopping the problem at the source and saving lives.”
“Opioid drug abuse, in addition to tearing families across New Jersey apart, costs our state in terms of health care expenses, law enforcement expenses and overall potential loss,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This epidemic warrants the urgent, targeted action from law enforcement for which this legislation calls.”
Under the bill, the attorney general may issue appropriate directives, establish task forces and implement other measures deemed necessary to execute duties outlined in the bill. Additionally, the bill would empower the attorney general to call for assistance from 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, which gained unanimous Assembly approval on Thursday, in February also received unanimous approval from the Senate.