Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, alongside former President Bill Clinton, declared war on the illegal sale and abuse of prescription drugs in a speech at the New York University Law School on Monday morning.
Kelly said the NYPD and the Task Force on Prescription Painkiller Abuse were implementing four measures as part of the NYPD’s crackdown on the use of drugs like oxycodone, OxyContin, methadone and Percocet.
The commissioner detailed Operation Safety Cap, in which the NYPD will advise about 6,000 licensed pharmacists in the city on how to safeguard their dispensaries from robbery. Kelly said this includes placing new alarm systems in storage rooms and keeping stores lit after hours.
Operation Safety Cap also includes the distribution of dummy painkiller bottles with GPS trackers in them, so as to follow the flow of drugs after potential robberies.
Other measures the task force implemented include police training on drug abuse, a partnership with the Drug Enforcement Administration and an expanded citywide drug education program focusing on high schools and colleges.
To underline the danger of prescription drug abuse, Kelly reiterated a situation where a NYPD officer became addicted to OxyContin following an on-the-job-injury.
The officer began robbing drug stores at gunpoint, demanding the drug by name but leaving the register untouched. It was an anecdote he related upon first unveiling Operation Safety Cap back in January.
“If that doesn’t illustrate the power of addiction, nothing does,” Kelly said on Monday.
According to a study released this year by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, prescription drug abuse accounted for about a quarter of drug-related emergency room visits in 2010.
The same report said that between 2004 and 2010, medical emergencies brought on by non-pharmaceutical drug abuse increased by 119 percent.