Suffolk County is doubling down on its efforts to bust drunk drivers on the East End as visitors are set to return to the Island’s hub of Summer fun.
District Attorney Thomas Spota this week , a collaboration between county, state and local police forces that intends to add up to 17 new patrols to the tourist destination and will routinely set up DWI checkpoints to bust drivers who get behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The effort is set to stretch from the North Fork, where vineyards, bars and restaurants lure travelers from Long Island and beyond, to the Hamptons, which plays host to a world-famous nightlife and party scene.
While Spota didn’t give specific East End numbers, he said Suffolk County logged 1,200 DWI arrests in 2011, and 699 of those came back with blood tests showing alcohol content well above the legal limit.
“Local police departments in the five towns and villages don’t have the resources to focus solely on drunk and drugged drivers on holiday weekends,” Spota said earlier in the week.
“This team strategy will augment local law enforcement and make the expansion of the enforcement action on the East End more mobile and responsive.”
The Task Force effort also includes a mobile unit called the “BAT Mobile,” a van of sorts where police can give Breathalyzer tests and even hold people in a mobile cell.
EMTs Use New Drug at Scene of Overdoses
Certain Suffolk County EMTs are giving victims of opioid overdoses a new drug that will help save their lives at the scene of emergencies, the county announced this week.
The county will be participating in the state’s regional EMS Opioid Overdose Prevention Project, in which advanced EMS workers will give the drug Naloxone to victims of these overdoses.
It's a drug that's said to reverse the effects of opioids, which refers to all drugs derived from opium from illegal substances like heroin to prescription drugs such as Oxycodone.
The program comes as the region continues to fight the proliferation of opioid use across Long Island, especially among area students.
The county said it's already had its advanced EMTs using Naloxone - 570 doses in 2011 - but the state’s pilot program hopes to train all EMTs to be able to give the drug.
With drug overdoses time can be a major factor since the overdose can limit the amount of oxygen getting to a victim’s brain. The sooner Naloxone can be given, the better chance the victim will recover, officials said.
Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn, D-Setauket, has also introduced a bill that would give police officers the power to give Naloxone when they respond to the scene of opioid overdoses.
Another Downgrade for Suffolk’s Bond Rating
The fiscal hits keep coming for Suffolk County, which has been already working to fill a budget gap of more than $530 million.
Both Fitch Ratings and S&P lowered the county’s credit rating to A+, down from AA-, citing problems such as low cash reserves and the overstatement of the county’s sales tax revenues.
The move follows a similar downgrade by Moody’s Investor Serves more than two months ago.
County officials are looking into spending cuts, planned layoffs and adjustments to the county’s pension system to help close the gap.
County Beach Monitoring Program Returns
Heavy rains on Long Island tend to close local beaches as storm runoff could cause conditions that are perfect for dangerous bacteria blooms.
The county health department - which makes the decisions to close beaches - said this week its beach monitoring program is back online for the 2012 summer season.
For updates about affected beaches, call 631-852-5822.