U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that following their push, as part of the just-passed Senate minibus appropriations bill, the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program will be fully funded in FY2019 and remain under the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). The Senators said that over the years, the HIDTA program has provided both millions of dollars and priceless direct federal support for Upstate New York’s intelligence-sharing and drug investigation initiatives. The Senators explained that the HIDTA program was created to promote efficiency across multiple law enforcement agencies and that the program works.
“Moving the critical crime- and drug-fighting HIDTA program from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, where it has proven to work well – especially with our local law enforcement in Upstate New York, is a bad idea that needed to be stopped in its tracks. It would’ve created needless bureaucracy during the peak of the opioid epidemic and essentially hamstrung the program,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why I worked so hard in the Senate minibus appropriations bill to ensure that the program stayed right where it belongs, under the ONDCP — and that it continued to be fully funded. I’ll always fight tooth and nail to ensure that our dedicated New York law enforcement officers have all the tools they need to fight back against the ongoing opioid scourge.”
“The opioid epidemic has destroyed too many lives in New York, and we must use every tool we have available to end this crisis,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The HIDTA program helps our local law enforcement officials coordinate with federal and state resources to better safeguard our communities from drug trafficking and abuse, which is why I fought to make sure that this critical program remains as effective as possible. I am pleased that the recently-passed spending bill includes funding to help our communities combat this crisis and I will continue working in the Senate to help end the opioid epidemic.”
The Trump administration recently proposed moving the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which is part of the Executive Office of the President, to the Justice Department. The senators said that this would have created needless bureaucracy and inefficiency that could have translated into less effective anti-opioid policies that put lives of Upstate New Yorkers at risk, especially in the midst of the ongoing opioid crisis. Schumer and Gillibrand successfully fought against this move in the Senate minibus appropriations bill to ensure that the program will stay under the ONDCP, and opposed all proposed cuts to this critical program.
The senators also said that they secured full funding for the program in FY2019, amounting to a total of $280 million. The HIDTA program funds intelligence-sharing initiatives, drug use prevention and drug treatment initiatives, as well as general support for programs that provide assistance to law enforcement beyond their normal scope of duty. The New York/New Jersey HIDTA is one of 28 HIDTA’s nationwide, which include approximately 16 percent of all counties in the United State and 60 percent of the U.S. population.
There are currently 25 counties in New York that are part of the NY/NJ HIDTA, including the following Upstate communities: Albany, Broome, Chautauqua, Clinton, Dutchess, Erie, Franklin, Jefferson, Monroe, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, St. Lawrence, Westchester, and Ulster. Since the 90s, Upstate New York has received nearly $16 million in special HIDTA funds and countless additional federal resources to assist with investigations and anti-trafficking initiatives.
Under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 and the ONDCP Reauthorization Act of 2006, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is authorized to declare areas that exhibit serious drug trafficking problems as HIDTAs if local law enforcement groups petition for the designation. Many counties in Upstate New York are already HIDTA-designated counties, meaning that they receive federal resources to combat drug trafficking and sales. The purpose of HIDTA is to reduce drug trafficking and production in the United States. The program’s goal is to facilitate cooperation among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies; to share information and implement coordinated enforcement activities; to enhance intelligence sharing among law enforcement agencies as well as public health officials; to facilitate the design of effective enforcement strategies; and to support coordinated law enforcement strategies that make the most of available resources to reduce the supply of illegal drugs in the U.S.