As you may recall, in early 2017 we started the initiative to combat the Opioid Epidemic in our area and were seeking a Federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Designation for Westmoreland County. When we started this initiative, the overdose rate of deaths in our county was growing at 46% per year. The complete costs associated with these deaths is immeasurable in terms of the families affected and the lost contributions these individuals may have had in our communities.
Although our original efforts were thwarted due to political reasons, I am pleased to say that Westmoreland County has finally been designated a HIDTA by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. Westmoreland joins three other Southwestern PA counties (Allegheny, Beaver, and Washington) in receiving dedicated federal resources to coordinate federal, state, and local government to fight drug trafficking and abuse.
The HIDTA designation will allow Westmoreland County to have access to critical federal funding to ramp up prevention efforts, decrease the availability of illicit drugs, to investigate and prosecute the leaders of drug trafficking organization and allow enhanced training opportunities for law enforcement. Overall, the funding will allow for a more cooperative effort between the local, state, and federal partners to combat the opioid epidemic and drug trafficking.
I would like to thank the parties involved in this second initiative for their efforts in getting this much needed designation for Westmoreland County, especially the White House. Covington continues to support initiatives that focus on important issues such as: the opioid epidemic, supporting basic human needs, early childhood development and adult educational programs.
My visit to the White House April 6, 2019.