CHENANGO COUNTY – Heroin use across Chenango County has been more in the radar for local law enforcement in recent years, with many local officers now calling heroin a growing epidemic as the number of heroin abuse incidences have steadily increased.
The City of Norwich alone has seen an irrefutable surge of heroin-related arrests as of late last year. In 2011, Norwich police made only two arrests involving criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument, but by 2012, that quickly jumped to 21 arrests, according to Norwich Police Chief Joseph Angelino. Meanwhile, criminal possession or sale of controlled substance arrests, many involving heroin, rose from 35 to 43.
In New Berlin, trends are much the same. The Route 8 corridor is a beaten pathway for drug dealers, as is nearby Route 23 that leads from the Town of South New Berlin to Oneonta. But the problem isn’t catching criminal behavior, says the New Berlin Police Department; the problem is preventing it in the first place and taking action to provide the necessary resources for heroin-addicted individuals.
“It’s an epidemic. It’s everywhere and we’re not doing anything to actually solve the problem,” said New Berlin Police Sgt. Dominick Commesso, noting the lack of preparedness and resources available in Chenango County to address the issue of heroin addiction. “The worst thing is that a lot of the people, especially young people, who want to quit have no place to turn. And most of them want to quit.”