09.28.15

Leahy-Authored Program Grants $1.4 Million To Fight Heroin in Vermont

. . . Vermont Nets Nearly One-Fourth Of $6 Million Awarded Nationally

WASHINGTON (MONDAY, Sept. 28, 2015) – To help combat the opioid crisis that grips the Green Mountain State and other states and regions, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Monday announced a $1.4 million federal grant to the Vermont State Police for additional troopers dedicated to heroin and opioid trafficking enforcement. The grant is one of six awarded across the nation through the new Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Anti-Heroin Task Force (AHTF) Program. 

Leahy, the senior-most member of the Appropriations Committee, led in crafting the program last year as part of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.  Leahy said:  “Heroin and opioid addiction in Vermont and across the country has strained communities and devastated families.  This is a crisis that will take all of us, from our neighbors, to decision makers in state and local governments and in Washington, to confront and break this corrosive cycle of addiction.  I applied what we learned from our work here in Vermont to create the Anti-Heroin Task Force Program to build upon that foundation to provide our police and our communities with the resources they need.”

The AHTF Program provides resources for state law enforcement in areas with high rates of primary treatment admissions for heroin and other opioids.  The $1,430,519 grant to the Vermont Drug Task Force, an interagency partnership for which Leahy secured nearly $10 million to support over the past decade, was one of six grants totaling nearly $6 million awarded by the AHTF program in its first year through the U.S. Department of Justice.

Col. Matt Birmingham, Commander of the Vermont State Police, said:  “We appreciate Senator Leahy’s leadership in creating this program and securing this award for Vermont. This will further our ability to fight the ongoing opiate epidemic plaguing our state and allow our law enforcement officers to dismantle the supply chains that are coming into Vermont.  It is with the help of grants like this that we can continue our coordinated effort of prevention and treatment as we try to eliminate the opiate crisis affecting our communities.” 

The program is an unprecedented step in targeting the sharp rise of heroin and opioid addiction in New England states like Vermont and in communities across the nation.  The program, created by Leahy, draws from testimony presented at a 2014 hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Leahy in Rutland that examined community responses to the scourge of heroin and opioid addiction.  Leahy, now Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, held three previous hearings in Vermont on drug abuse and its related problems in St. Albans, Barre and Rutland. 


Recognizing that heroin abuse is not solely the challenge of law enforcers, Leahy recently announced grants totaling $12.9 million for substance abuse prevention efforts in Vermont, in addition to a $1 million federal grant to expand treatment programs for heroin and opioid addiction.

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