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Dec 1, 2015 6:44 PM

Landrigan: Opioid task force tackles finances; how much money is enough to cure the epidemic?

CONCORD - Tilton Police Chief Bob Cormier told lawmakers he gets calls from parents who want their child arrested.

"They say 'chief I want you to arrest my son,' and the first question that comes out of my mouth is why, and he’s addicted to heroin or opiates and he just doesn’t want to get help," said Cormier, president of the New Hampshire Association of Police Chiefs.

This is part of the human toll of the mounting drug problem as the Legislature’s Opioid Task Force tackles a tough question: How much new money is enough to cure this epidemic?

"And clearly there is a need for more enhanced law enforcement to try and interdict high level dealers for the source of heroin and fentanyl coming into the state," said Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro. "I don’t think anyone would disagree with that.’’

One proposal under consideration is to expand Manchester’s Granite Hammer statewide, flooding target neighborhoods with more patrols.

"There is a significant number of extra, eight-hour blocks that can be put out," says State Police Director Robert Quinn.

But critics note while $2.25 million would pay for nearly 2,900 shifts, that only translates in the entire state to three-and-a-half patrols of two officers each day.

"With two people you would essentially get three and a half FTEs covering the entire state of New Hampshire," says State Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford. "So I still submit to you that’s a relatively small number.’’

Republican legislative leaders say it’s still unclear whether the state can afford Gov. Maggie Hassan’s bid for $11 million more to fight this issue.

"We also need to be sure we have the resources to pay for it,’’ Bradley adds.

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