With just four weeks left in office, Mayor Bill de Blasio is opening the country’s first supervised shooting galleries in upper Manhattan — amid a spike in overdose deaths and disturbing scenes of junkies shooting up on public sidewalks.
“Overdose Prevention Centers are a safe and effective way to address the opioid crisis. I’m proud to show cities in this country that after decades of failure, a smarter approach is possible,” de Blasio said in a statement Tuesday.
The centers, in East Harlem and Washington Heights, are expected to open as early as Tuesday.
The locations were chosen based on “health need and depth of program experience,” according to the Health Department. The sites will provide clean needles and social services, but users must bring their own drugs.
Last year over 2,000 New Yorkers died of a drug overdose, the highest since the city started tracking the figures in 2000. The most common drug involved in the fatalities is opioids. Between January and March this year another 596 people lost their lives due to addiction. A city Health Department study found that the sites could save up to 130 people a year.
The mayor tried to push the controversial proposal to open a total of four sites before, but was blocked by former Gov. Cuomo and former President Trump who both opposed the plan.
City Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island) was skeptical about the program’s effectiveness.
“British Columbia has lead North America in safe injection sites, all while crossing overdose death milestones every month. How anyone can see this as a solution to a serious problem is beyond me, never mind the concerns of the neighbors,” Borelli told The Post Tuesday.
Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island and Brooklyn) also blasted the sites, noting that the Department of Justice under President Trump said they would violate the federal Controlled Substance Act.
De Blasio has largely turned a blind eye to daytime drug sprees in major city hubs like the Garment District and the Triangle Plaza Hub in The Bronx.