Ulster Sheriff secures $1.3 million opioid-fighting grant

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Sheriff Juan Figueroa, podium, announces the $1.3 million grant to combat the opioid epidemic

KINGSTON – Elected and law enforcement officials and substance abuse prevention personnel gathered Thursday at the Ulster County Law Enforcement Center in Kingston to welcome a new federal $1.3 million grant to help the county cope with the ongoing opioid epidemic.

“I think it’s important to recognize the importance of what we are doing here to help people,” said Sheriff Juan Figueroa.

Rep. Pat Ryan (D, NY-19), the former Ulster County executive until he was elected to the House of Representatives this summer, sought help during his administration to try and slow the opioid epidemic.

“We had to declare a public health emergency in 2020, for fentanyl to raise awareness of just how deadly and lethal it can be, and how seriously need to take that,” he said.

Between January 2021 and August 2022, the county’s Opioid Response as County Law Enforcement (ORACLE) unit had 683 referrals for treatment and distributed 1,835 Naloxone kits to treat overdoses.

And the grant announced Thursday helps the county fund new positions to fight the county’s opioid problems.

“We need to change how we deal with addiction; that we treat it as a public health and mental health issue that it is,” said Ryan.