Law enforcement efforts in Orange County are working to target opioid and heroin abuse at the source.
"We treat every overdose death very seriously, we almost treat it as a homicide scene," says Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler (R). "We try to find viable evidence at the scene that will allow us track the drugs that ultimately lead to that person's death."
Over just the last week, Port Jervis police arresting three people allegedly involved in heroin and prescription pills dealing that directly led to overdoses.
"We want to make it clear we're going to hold dealers accountable," says City of Port Jervis Police Chief William Worden. "We've been working very hard with the community to battle this epidemic, since about 2012 really, when it hit this city hard. And we're just contining to collaborate."
The District Attorney's office as well as the police in Port Jervis say that enforcement is one part of the solution, but it's not the only solution. They're looking for community solutions that will help prevent people from using drugs in the first place. And, also help those who are suffering from addiction get the treatment that they need.
Such as a new billboard campaign around Orange County aimed at prevention and designed to be shocking.
"I hope that people see the billboards and it's a wake up call," says Hoovler, who has digital and print billboards placed on roadways across the county.
Officials hope they spark conversations and new perspectives.
"Everyone in our community knows about it and they;ll acknowledge that the opioid epidemic is a problem," says Hoovler. "But until it knocks on their doorsteps it's not really their problem, it's just a community problem."
Port Jervis like many communities is working to show anyone and everyone how to use the life-saving anti-overdose medication naloxone, called Narcan.
"We would like to get the idea that [naloxone] should be mainstreamed," said Lindsay Carroll from Port Jervis PRIDE, a local Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange and Sullivan-run drug prevention organization. "Everybody should know how to use this because anyone is at risk of overdosing, and anyone could have the ability to save someone's life."
Interest has been so great that the city's next narcan training is full. But, officials say they know there is more that needs to be done.
"We're losing too many people, young and old in our area in western Orange County, in our tri-state community, and it's got to stop," said Worden. "One death is too many and we have to work harder."