The number of overdose deaths in New York City has risen 36 percent in the last year, according to CDC data, as it emerged that state officials have ordered NYPD officers not interfere with public drug use.
There were 2,243 overdose deaths in the Big Apple in a 12-month period ending March 31, compared to just 1,653 in the previous 12 months, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report revealed this week.
And the agency says that the latest numbers might not even fully represent the full scope of the crisis, with officials warning: ‘that’s an undercount due to incomplete data.’
According to the CDC, over the last year 1,853 people died from opioid overdoses in the city, a 45 percent rise from the previous year.
At least 908 people died from cocaine overdoses, a 35 percent rise in the same 12-month period, while 800 people overdosed on heroin, 15 percent more than in 2020.
New York City overdose stats closely resemble nationwide overdoses, which went up 31 percent, with 96,779 total deaths over the same 12 month period.
The shocking numbers come after NYPD commanders were issued a directive from state officials on Friday to not interfere with public drug use, the New York Post reported.
In just one year New York City drug overdose deaths spiked 36 percent
NYPD commanders were issued a directive from state officials on Friday to not interfere with public drug use
‘Effective immediately, members of the service should not take any enforcement action against any individual who possesses a hypodermic needle, even when it contains residue of a controlled substance,’ the directive to NYPD commanders said.
The policy derives from Senate Bill 2523 that decriminalizes the possession or sale of hypodermic needles and syringes that went into effect on October 7 after it was signed into law by New York Governor Kathy Hochul last week, the Post reported.
The order also adds that ‘it is no longer a violation of law for an individual to possess a hypodermic needle, even when it did not come from a pharmacy or a needle exchange program,’ giving drug addicts free reign to share needles.
The rise in drug use is apparent in Manhattan’s Garment District near Penn Station, a district where crime rose 41 percent this year through Sept. 19 compared to the same period in 2020, according to NYPD crime data.
Neighbors say police presence remains scarce, and outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio has been criticized for ‘coddling addicts’ and not working to get the drugs off the streets.
Witnesses in the 24-block radius between 34th and 41st Streets and west of 6th Avenue told The New York Post that the streets are ‘littered with used needles, broken glass crack pipes, trash, urine, and feces.’
‘I’ve personally seen dozens of deals go down. I’ve seen a person OD and nearly die,’ one neighbor said on social media, according to the NYC newspaper.
‘This is the worst this block has ever been,’ another neighbor wrote in his social media post, The Post reported.
‘People live here, and despite reporting and pleading with the NYPD to patrol more down this block, they are not doing anything to try and catch these dealers.’
Garment District Alliance President Barbara Blair told The Post that they’re ‘appalled and disgusted’ by the drug use and ‘other illicit behaviors that are taking place on our sidewalks in Midtown Manhattan and throughout New York City.’
‘We have been fighting to put an end to this crisis, however our city officials have unfortunately failed to address the problem and have allowed this public disorder to continue,’ Blair said.
The order comes as violent crime in New York City has been spiking, despite a growing number of police officers nearly doubling their annual salaries by working hundreds of hours in overtime.
Officers are boosting their $42,500 starting salary to $100,000 a year by making petty arrests at the end of their shifts to bump up their overtime, rather than tackling the crime epidemic which has gripped the city, according to Bloomberg.
Last year, overtime costs alone hit a record-breaking $837 million as New York City police officers logged more overtime hours in the 2020 fiscal year than cops in any other major U.S. city. One single precinct in Brooklyn paid out a whopping $7.8 million in overtime.
In the same period, violent crime soared by 5.6 per cent.
Overspending for the NYPD is nothing new; the department has overspent on its budget every years for at least the past 20 years.
But last year’s historic spending amid a hike in crime has sparked concerns and calls for an overhaul of the NYPD’s overtime system as critics claim it encourages ‘collars for dollars’ – petty arrests that unfairly target low income residents and people of color, while doing nothing to tackle the real criminals.
Democratic mayoral candidate and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who has pledged to slash the NYPD overtime spending in half by the end of his first year in office, said he wanted to target those abusing the system.
‘There are officers who will wait until the last half an hour of their tour and they will come up with some bogus collar or some offense. That’s what we’re not identifying, we’re not identifying those who are abusing the system for overtime,’ Adams told Bloomberg.
Former New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton insisted that the overtime was necessary and it had peaked last year because of the Black Lives Matter violent protests, staffing shortages and an increase in violent crime during COVID-19 as people lost their jobs and many left the city.
The city’s overall crime rate is down a quarter of a percentage point this year through October 10 as compared to last year, according to the NYPD’s most recent data.
However, crime is up in certain categories, such as assaults and rape, which are up 7.7 percent and 2.7 percent from last year, respectively.
Grand larcenies are also up 2.4 percent from last year, with grand larceny from automobiles up 14.5 percent.
And shooting incidents have increased 3.5 percent over last year, with a little over 1 percent more shooting victims.