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NYC plowing ahead with public ‘safe injection sites’

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Mayor Bill de Blasio is reviving a long-stalled plan to open supervised shooting galleries around the Big Apple — amid a surge in overdose deaths and shocking scenes of junkies shooting up on Manhattan sidewalks in broad daylight.

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, de Blasio called the junkie safe havens “an idea whose time has come” and said he was moving forward with the controversial proposal he first floated in 2018 because he finally had “the kind of potential cooperation” he needed from President Biden and Gov. Kathy Hochul after a decided lack of support from former President Donald Trump and ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The lame-duck mayor’s remarks were met with immediate opposition from some pols and business leaders. 

“It’s time to put the idea to bed that we should just accept heroin and fentanyl floating around our communities,” said city Councilman Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island).

Barbara Blair, president of Manhattan’s Garment District Alliance — which represents businesses in an area that The Post has revealed is rife with open-air narcotics use — said her group “would have a big problem” if de Blasio tried to put one of his “safe injection” centers there.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said the safe injection sites will be there to “stop people from overdosing who could be saved.”
AP Photo/Richard Drew

“The reason we have a problem with that is not necessarily because I presume to know how to solve this problem of addiction in the United States of America and what it’s doing to our streets,” she said.

“What I do know, from a neighborhood perspective, is when you literally dump all manner of social services in one neighborhood that is already anchored by transportation hubs that bring in activities of their own that aren’t necessarily having to do with transportation, you create a situation where the neighborhood really gets destroyed.”

Republican mayoral nominee Curtis Sliwa said de Blasio’s plan wouldn’t provide a “remedy” for the city’s drug crisis.

“The problem is that all the drug dealers hang out right outside the injection center … because these addicts have to buy the drugs,” he said.

A group of homeless men after buying drugs outside of Penn Station in Manhattan
Drug use is common in the area surrounding Penn Station.
Stephen Yang

“So, addicts will then roam about that neighborhood — shoplifting, stealing, grabbing anything they can sell in order to buy the drug from the dealers.”

De Blasio’s comments came in response to a Monday report by Politico that said the city Health Department was “moving aggressively” to open the first two sites. The  administration’s push also follows a law signed by Hochul earlier this month that  decriminalized the possession or sale of hypodermic needles and syringes.

The new law led the NYPD to issue a directive that effectively allows druggies to shoot up in public.

De Blasio acknowledged having “some real issues to work through, particularly with the state and federal government,” but said it was the “right time” to push his long-stalled proposal, which called for the creation of four city-sanctioned drug dens.

Curtis Sliwa
Curtis Sliwa said the supervised injection sites are not a “remedy” to public drug use.
James Keivom

“So, we’re not ready to make any specific announcements yet, but it is something we continue to work on energetically,” de Blasio said

“We don’t have the final, specific plan, but I’m very hopeful on this.”

De Blasio said he wanted to put “overdose prevention centers” in neighborhoods “where the need is greatest.”

Hizzoner claimed they would “save lives, stop people from overdosing who could be saved, and of course in every way help them towards treatment and support.”

New York Governor Kathy Hochul
Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill decriminalizing the possession or sale of hypodermic needles and syringes. 
BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images

Fatal overdoses in the Big Apple are up 36 percent annually, according to the most recent data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Post reported earlier this month.

Three were 2,243 deaths during the 12 months that ended March 31, compared to 1,653 in the previous period.

Asked to comment on de Blasio’s remarks, a Hochul spokeswoman said, “All options are on the table to save lives.”

“The Governor will work with experts and impacted communities to determine how best to reduce harm and keep New Yorkers safe,” spokeswoman Hazel Crampton-Hays said in a prepared statement.

The White House didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Additional reporting by Steven Nelson

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