Paterson to deploy opioid response teams amid scourge of drugs, violence

PATERSON, NJ — In an effort to curb the drugs and violence raging on the streets of Paterson right now, officials announced opioid response teams will be added to the city’s arsenal.

They’re headed to overdose scenes to be there the moment an addict is revived. The goal is to surround them with people dedicated to recovery. The teams will be on call 24/7. Each team will be made up of at least one police officer, one trained EMS professional and one substance abuse recovery advocate.

The state announced a $150,000 grant for the city to help with this effort Wednesday.

"To position law enforcement as a gateway to recovery programs," said New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

Paterson has long been a hot spot for people looking to get high. You can spot open-air drug markets in some parts of the city.

"We’ve got to make sure the citizens of Paterson are safe," said Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh.

Last weekend, Paterson deployed 60 extra police officers and seized almost 1,000 glassines of heroin in three days, plus over 1,000 grams of other drugs.

That helped the city to achieve its first weekend in over two months when no one got shot.

But as policing levels returned to normal, that streak ended.

On Monday night, three 14-year-old boys with gunshot wounds were rushed to a hospital from a drug-plagued neighborhood in the city’s 4th ward.

"We are doing everything we can to combat the narcotics epidemic that we face in this city," said Paterson Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale.

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