WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative (PAARI), a nonprofit law enforcement organization, sent a letter to Senate leadership urging immediate passage of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s bipartisan bill to keep deadly synthetic opioids like fentanyl out of Ohio. Brown’s bill, the INTERDICT Act, has passed the House and is currently awaiting action in the Senate.
PAARI’s letter follows data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showing Ohio had the second highest death rate by drug overdose in the U.S in 2016. The Fraternal Order of Police also sent a letter to Senate Leaders yesterday calling for passage of Brown’s bill, the INTERDICT Act.
“Now is the time to act. This holiday season too many seats at too many tables are empty due to the unrelenting flow of fentanyl into the United States. We must give our law enforcement personnel the tools necessary to stop this flow. We can do that, in part, by getting the INTERDICT Act to the President’s desk this year. That is why PAARI strongly supports this important legislation which will give U.S. Customs and Border Protection the additional resources it needs to fight the flow of fentanyl and other deadly drugs into the United States,” wrote Chief Frederick Ryan, PAARI Board of Directors Co-Chair.
Several state and national law enforcement organizations, including the Ohio FOP and the Buckeye Sheriff’s Association, have endorsed Brown’s bill. Brown’s bill is also supported by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Brown is supporting Portman’s STOP Act, which is also endorsed by law enforcement. The two bills work together to help block the deadly synthetic opioid from reaching Ohio communities.
During a Senate Finance Committee Hearing in October, Brown secured a commitment from CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan to work with Brown to make sure customs agents have the equipment to identify fentanyl and keep the deadly drug out of Ohio.
Brown’s bill would authorize $15 million for hundreds of new screening devices, laboratory equipment, facilities, and personnel for 24x7 lab support. The money will be used to:
- Provide more portable chemical screening devices at ports of entry and mail and express consignment facilities and additional fixed chemical screening devices available in CBP laboratories.
- Provide CBP with sufficient resources, personnel, and facilities — including scientists available during all operational hours — to interpret screening test results from the field.
Providing CBP with more screening devices and lab support will not only stop more Fentanyl from coming into the U.S., it will also protect more agents in the field from exposure to dangerous substances.
Full text of PAARI’s letter to Senate leadership can be found here and below:
Dear Senators McConnell and Schumer,
The Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative (PAARI) is a nonprofit organization that trains and supports more than 360 law enforcement agencies that have launched programs that serve as a pre-arrest bridge to treatment. PAARI was pleased to offer its strong support for S.708, the bipartisan INTERDICT Act, which was introduced by Senators Markey, Rubio, Brown, and Capito. This bill will expand U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s ability to use technology to detect fentanyl and other narcotics coming into the United States from abroad and which are causing a public health epidemic in our communities.
While the Senate has yet to act on S. 708, the House of Representatives took action and on 25
October 2017, passed companion legislation HR 2142, by a vote of 412-3. As this year draws to a close, we urge the Senate to take up and pass the House version of INTERDICT this year.
Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with more than
54,000 overdose deaths reported in 2015. Almost 33,000 of those overdose deaths — roughly
60 percent — involved opioids, including prescription opioid pain relievers, heroin, or the synthetic opioid fentanyl. In particular, as the CDC’s recent report has just shown, fentanyl and its analogs are becoming increasingly responsible for these overdose deaths.
Fentanyl is up to 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine. It is dangerous and potentially life-threatening to simply touch or accidentally inhale the white powdery substance. Sometimes, unbeknownst to the user, fentanyl is often mixed with heroin or other substances, or formed to resemble prescription opioid pills. Most illicit fentanyl comes to the United States from China and Mexico, delivered through the mail or express consignment carriers, or smuggled across the southwest border of the United States. The INTERDICT Act will help the United States better identify and stop these dangerous substances from landing in communities across America.
Now is the time to act. This holiday season too many seats at too many tables are empty due to the unrelenting flow of fentanyl into the United States. We must give our law enforcement personnel the tools necessary to stop this flow. We can do that, in part, by getting the INTERDICT Act to the President’s desk this year. That is why PAARI strongly supports this important legislation which will give U.S. Customs and Border Protection the additional resources it needs to fight the flow of fentanyl and other deadly drugs into the United States.