Sheppard and Clifford: Leadership Needed To Fight Opioid Crisis

Citing the dramatic increase in overdoses and other drug-related activity on City streets, Rochester Mayoral candidate James Sheppard and Northwest City Councilmember Molly Clifford today called on Mayor Lovely Warren to step up, acknowledge the crisis, and bring every resource to the table to fight it.

“This situation is out of control,” Sheppard said. “The police and fire departments are overwhelmed.  Needles are everywhere.  Families can’t leave their houses.  Addicts can’t get help. And Mayor Warren cuts more ribbons.  Where is the outrage?”

At a press conference in Loewke Park, 485 Lyell Avenue, a place known for drug infestation, not recreation, Sheppard and Clifford called on Warren to take action, including:

  • Increase health services and needle exchange through Trillium Health, Health Care for the Homeless and other partners to provide care and access to treatment for users;
  • Install syringe disposal kiosks in high-risk areas, provided at no cost by the New York State Department of Health, to keep needles off the streets;
  • Require opioid overdose and harm reduction training and Narcan kits for RPD’s Patrol Division;
  • Put the Department of Environmental Services on “needle reduction routes,” to provide regular and safe clean-ups in the top 20 most hazardous blocks;
  • Add hours for the DES board-up crews to ensure that vacant houses used for drugs are secured immediately;
  • Pursue long-term neighborhood strategies that include elimination of problematic alleys in drug-infested neighborhoods;
  • Take a leadership role on the Monroe County Opioid Task Force to ensure the City’s voice is heard and countywide resources are directed where they’re needed most.

“Everywhere I go in Northwest Rochester and beyond, neighbors are begging for help,” Clifford said.  “They can’t understand how this level of drug abuse, violence, and deterioration can go on without any response. It’s as if no one cares.”

Sheppard and Clifford have been working with the Opioid Task Force over the past year, and have sponsored opioid overdose trainings and other outreach events.  They acknowledge that this battle needs to be waged on multiple fronts.  But this battle is missing one critical element: a general.

“Make no mistake,” Sheppard said. “In a Sheppard Administration, when we have a problem, I will be on the front lines to help solve it.  We owe it to our citizens, our staff and our community. That’s what real leadership is.”