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-unveiled federal spending package for Fiscal Year 2020, the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program will receive a $5 million increase, bringing its total funding up to $285 million. Additionally, the senators explained, the spending package rejects the administration’s misguided proposal to move HIDTA to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), where it belongs. Schumer and Gillibrand 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.
“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—was a bad idea last year, and an even worse idea this year, and it 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 pending appropriations bill to reject this misguided proposal for the second consecutive year, ensuring the program remained right where it belongs, under the ONDCP, and to secure a $5 million increase for this lifesaving program. I’ll always fight tooth and nail to ensure that our dedicated Upstate New York law enforcement officers have all the tools and resources available to fight back against the ongoing opioid scourge.”
“The opioid epidemic has shattered too many New York families, and we must use every tool at our disposal to end this crisis. The HIDTA program is critical to this fight, as it helps local law enforcement coordinate with federal and state resources to better safeguard our communities from drug trafficking and abuse,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I’m proud I was able to help secure a $5 million increase in funding for this essential program, and it’s why I fought so hard to keep it under the ONDCP, where it will be most effective. I believe we can end the opioid epidemic and I will continue working my hardest to do so.”
This year, same as last year, the administration proposed moving the HIDTA program from ONDCP, which is part of the Executive Office of the President, to the Justice Department. Schumer and Gillibrand said that this would have created needless bureaucracy and inefficiency that could have translated into less effective anti-opioid policies that put the 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 last year’s minibus appropriations bill, and has again beat back the attempt in this year’s spending deal.
Additionally, the senators secured a $5 million increase for the program in Fiscal Year 2020, amounting to a total of $285 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 26 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, Oswego, 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.