LOCKPORT - Niagara County has been declared eligible for extra federal aid to law enforcement for fighting drugs.
U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer announced Thursday that the Office of National Drug Control Policy has agreed to designate Niagara County as a high intensity drug trafficking area. The designation means Niagara County can receive extra funds and equipment to combat a recent increase in dealing of heroin and other opiates, as well as methamphetamine manufacture and other types of drug-related crime.
Erie County already has the high-intensity drug designation, along with 16 percent of the counties in the U.S.
In August, the county had applied for the designation in order to obtain a $125,000 federal grant to fund two new law enforcement jobs at the Sheriff's Office, a drug intelligence officer and a crime analyst.
Grants under this program also can be used for additional training for first responders in the use of naloxone, better known by the brand name Narcan, an antidote to life-threatening opiate overdoses.
Schumer wrote in his letter to the drug control office last month that opioid overdose-related emergency room visits in Niagara County increased from 48 in 2011 to 186 in 2015. That rate of emergency admissions in Niagara County was among the highest 25 counties in the state.