HCS Team in Sullivan County Assists in Securing HIDTA Designation

Maggie Barrows
Timothy Hunt
December 19, 2023

With support from Senator Chuck Schumer, Sullivan County will have access to expanded federal resources for law enforcement and substance use programming.

Sullivan County, New York, received a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) designation from the federal government in July of 2023. The HIDTA initiative, founded in 1988, provides substantial funding to the communities with the designation, and facilitates cooperation among federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to share information. The initiative also provides support as communities develop and provide comprehensive programming to combat substance use, through partnerships with public health, healthcare, education, and other sectors.

In Sullivan County, the HIDTA designation connects local law enforcement with federal partners, unlocking resources up to and including additional law enforcement boots on the ground. It also provides a flexible source of funding for the types of programs Sullivan needs the most to prevent and treat substance use disorders. After repeated applications, the support and guidance of Senator Chuck Schumer allowed Sullivan County to secure the designation.

Camille C. O'Brien, the HEALing Communities Study Engagement Facilitator for Sullivan County, said: "As a new county employee that was getting up to speed on the local nuances of the opioid epidemic in Sullivan County, I was invited by the Substance Use Task Force Coordinator, Wendy Brown, to sit in on a meeting about the County’s application to be designated as a High Impact Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), which had been rejected 3 times in the previous 5 years. This designation would bring better data analysis and overdose mapping to the County, which is something that would be very helpful in deploying many of the HEALing Communities strategies that I had been tasked with implementing.

"Looking for more specific direction, Ms. Brown was able to arrange for Senator Schumer to come to the District Attorney’s office to discuss what he had learned from Dr. Gupta, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, was missing from our application. The Senator brought with him advisors from the FBI, DEA, NYPD, and local HIDTA representation that came together with local stakeholders to brainstorm what should go into the application. The new application was submitted in March of 2023 and by late June we were notified that our application had been approved. Both Senator Schumer and Dr. Gupta came to Sullivan County in July to announce the designation and congratulate the county on its successful application."

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