On Wednesday, February 15th, BP Oddo joined with District Attorney McMahon, NYPD Assistant Chief Delatorre and health professionals to announce the Heroin Overdose Prevention and Education (HOPE) initiative, which redirects low-level drug offenders to community-based health and treatment services instead of jail and prosecution. The goal of HOPE is to reduce drug overdoses and improve public safety by getting those suffering from addiction onto the path to recovery.
The program allows eligible offenders to meet with peer coaches to provide them with a naloxone kit and talk to them about the program. The peer coach will also encourage the individual to visit a community based Resource and Recovery Center, of which there are two on Staten Island – one that runs 24 hours on the North Shore by Community Health Action of Staten Island, and another that operates on the South Shore by Christopher’s Reason and the Resource Training Center. If the individual decides to pursue treatment, the case will not be prosecuted.
“We have to think outside the box on this issue,” said BP Oddo. “We’ve begun to do that with our Too Good for Drugs and HOPE initiatives. We need to work together with law enforcement, health professionals and community-based organizations to help educate the next generation about the dangers of opioids and get those in need into treatment. This initiative is just one part of our multi-faceted approach to dealing with the opioid epidemic.”
“This effort recognizes that substance abuse illness is both a public health and a public safety crisis that is endangering our community and demands urgent collective action. Too often in our criminal justice system, individuals suffering from substance abuse disorder find that treatment or services are too far out of their reach or offered too late in the process to have meaning in their lives. Putting this effort in place has been an extraordinary example of the power that government can harness and mobilize across multiple disciplines to tackle a crisis effectively,” said District Attorney Michel McMahon.
In 2015, Staten Island had the highest rate of overdose death of any of the five boroughs and one of the highest rates in all of New York State. Last year, the NYPD reported more than 90 suspected overdose deaths on Staten Island and an additional 74 overdose-reversals with the drug Naloxone made by the NYPD.
On Tuesday, February 14th, BP Oddo welcomed 4th grade students from P.S. 50 to Borough Hall to see their artwork, which was installed in Room 125 last month.
The students’ work was inspired by Wayne Thiebaud, John Sloan and Georgia O’Keefe. The students were asked to use specific perspective techniques and color grouping to play with depth perception.
Members of the BP’s design team spoke about real world applications of art and how our office uses graphic design to convey messages to the public. BP Oddo then took questions from the students about working with other government agencies, the proposed dyslexia charter school and the importance of recycling.
“You are the future of art, and I hope you continue down this path,” BP Oddo told the students.
The art exhibit will be on display through April.
On Tuesday, February 7th, BP Oddo kicked off his annual Readers Are Leaders 4th Grade Reading Challenge at P.S. 38. “Readers are Leaders” challenges 4th grade classes in Staten Island’s public, parochial and private schools to read a minimum of six books at grade level or above during the five-week period of February 20th – March 27th. Students will then submit a report on their favorite book that they read during the period. Each school will pick one “Exceptional Reader” to receive an award at a ceremony in May. The challenge was started 21 years ago by then-Councilman Vito Fossella before being taken over by the Borough President’s office. Since its inception in 1996, 4th graders have read more than 630,000 books for the annual challenge.
BP Oddo was joined at the event by former Congressman Fossella and Joan Correale of Barnes & Noble. Talented students at the school sang songs and performed ballet and traditional Lunar New Year dances for the crowd. “Magician Mike” Lane performed a magic show for the students. He is the author of the “Magic Shop” Series. As an added bonus to the challenge, “Magician Mike” will offer special prizes for the students who read his books and submit the best book report based on a book from his series. In addition, a special appearance was made by Scooter, the mascot for the Staten Island Yankees.
“You guys are joining a wonderful tradition,” said BP Oddo. “This is a truly special program that has brought the love of books into the lives of so many Staten Island children. Whatever you want to learn about, whatever place you want to go to, reading can take you there."
"Magic happens when you open and get lost in a book,” noted Nancy Murillo, principal of P.S. 38.
The program is sponsored by Barnes & Noble, CTV, Macmillan Publishing, “Magician Mike” Lane and the Staten Island Yankees.