(Updated) A suspected bad batch of K2 sent crews racing all day Wednesday to treat dozens of overdose victims, most of them on the Green, in one of the busiest and most intense episodes of what has become a daily drama in New Haven.
The first reports of people collapsing on the Green came in around 8:15 a.m. Within four hours, firefighters, cops and AMR ambulance crews had transported people 22 times to the hospital for treatment. At least two were repeat customers: One man overdosed three times in six hours, officials said.
Then came another wave of overdoses a couple of hours later, with more people falling down, vomiting, losing consciousness. By 6 p.m. officials reported that crews had transported overdose victims 42 times to the hospital so far Wednesday, while another five victims refusing treatment on scene, for a total of 47. By midnight the number of transported and treated reached 72 plus the five refusing treatment, for a total of 77, according to Fire Chief John Alston Jr., who termed it a “mass casualty incident.”
No one died.
“Many are not from New Haven,” Alston noted of the victims. “Many come to New Haven for services.”
Officials theorized that the overdoses stemmed from a batch of synthetic marijuana known as K2 laced with fentanyl. Initial testing of a sample by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency revealed only the K2 without additives.
Meanwhile, police developed a lead on who may have sold the drugs. Their suspect, who is 37 years old, is on probation. With the help of probation officers, cops tracked him down and arrested him on Church Street near the Green. They also made a second arrest of a man with K2 on the Green Wednesday.
During a lull at 2:10 p.m., Police Chief Anthony Campbell and Fire Chief John Alston Jr. were comparing notes on the lower Green. A man in a cluster of Green regulars on a nearby bench was explaining the different groupings who get high each day in the park. “You have your potheads. You have your pillheads. You have your alcoholics,” he said. Then, pointing to where an unaccompanied cart was rolling toward Temple Street from a path on the Upper Green, he added, “And then there are the K2 smokers.”
Just then a woman called out that three people were down.
The chiefs ran over, Campbell radioing in for emergency help. Ambulance crews and firefigher medics, who had been on the Green all day, arrived in moments. With the help of Sandy Bogucki, emergency medical director for Yale-New Haven Hospital, they treated three men who had slumped over and were barely conscious.
“You OK?” Sgt. David Guliuzza kept asking one man on a bench while also directing the fast-growing crowd to step back to give emergency workers room.
The man on the bench twisted away from the Narcan-wielding crew workers.
“Listen, we’re going to help you out,” Guliuzza reassured him. “You OK?”
Eventually the three men were placed on stretchers and then transported to the hospital.
Reviving Victim Bolts
At the other end of the Green, near Church Street, medics found a man passed out on a bench.
They began administering to him. He stirred.
“Stay with us, all right,” one medic told him. “We’ll get you out of the sun.”
The man tried to stand up. “We’ve got an ambulance coming for you buddy,” a medic said.
The man got to his feet, began stumbling toward Church Street.
“Relax. Relax,” a firefighter urged him, placing his hand on the man’s shoulder.
The man slapped the hand away and started running.
The medics gave chase, joined by several police officers.
They caught up with him at the corner of Church and Chapel and tackled him in the road.
“Relax. Relax. We’re tryng to help you. You’re not in trouble,” one cop assured him
“We’re getting an ambulance. We’re trying to help you. Relax. Relax.”
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” the man insisted, wriggling his body.
“We’re helping you. We’re helping you,” came the response, and the man was brought to an ambulance.
According to Fire Chief Alston (pictured at the scene) and city emergency management chief Rick Fontana, none of the victims responded immediately to the application of Narcan, which usually works for people who have primarily injected an opiate like fentanyl. Once in the hospital, they did respond to larger doses of Narcan.
The cops also recovered a marijuana-style cigarette by one of the victims.
In one case, the same victim overdosed a second time after being revived at the hospital and released, according to Alston. In another case, the same person overdosed three times in six hours.
Victims reportedly were leaving the hospital against orders once they revived, returning to the Green for another high.
That put a strain on his firefighters. Concerned about “compassion fatigue,” Alston and Assistant Chief Mark Vendetto said, they decided to rotate six firefighters off OD duty after they’d responded to six cases within the first two and a half hours of their shift.
The overdoses also strained fire resources: “We had to pull three to four different engine companies and medical units” in addition to the AMR ambulance crews working the cases, Alston noted.
The 19th overdose in four hours occurred across from City Hall on the Green around noon.
“How much did you smoke?” an emergency medical tech asked as a crew prepared to bring the victim to Yale-New Haven Hospital.
“A nickel bag of K2,” the victim said.
“Did you buy it from the person you normally buy it from?” downtown police beat Officer Jenna Davis (at right in above photo) gently pressed.
“On the street” was all the victim could offer.
Victim #19, who appeared disheveled and weakened, at first begged the crews not to bring him to the hospital. “I just got to go to work,” he insisted.
“You’ve got to go to the hospital my friend,” an AMR EMT softly responded. “You can’t go to work like this. You’re not in good shape.”
Seated near the flagpole on the Green, a woman from East Haven and her nephew watched the crews work. She said the nephew had been smoking the same batch of drugs Wednesday and “stopped” when people started dropping. The nephew declined comment and rode away on a bicycle.
“The ones that dropped right there, I know them,” the woman said. “It was K2. They all had death wishes.
“God answered their prayers.”
Meanwhile, a mobile vendor did brisk business in acai “life bowls” and smoothies at the weekly CitySeed New Haven Green farmers market steps away.
Responding to 20-odd overdoses in a single day is hardly unusual in New Haven these days, Alston observed. What made Wednesday’s wave unusual was the high number in such a short period of time, concentrated in one location. But the overdosing is constant. At 7:30 just the evening before, for instance, ambulance, police and fire crews arrived on the Green to respond to three overdoses.
A regular on the Green, who said he’d gone into a coma after a fentanyl overdose, watched as paramedics took the three people to the hospital. He suspected they’d been on K2, which he compared to “smoking potpourri.”
What is Lamont’s and Stefanowksi’s position on recreational marijuana? At least gov’t stamped and packaged Weed won’t cause a mess like this to occur.
Hopefully, they get the mental help they need.
posted by: ILivehere on August 15, 2018 1:11pm
The question we need answered is how many of these people are current patients at the APT foundation.
posted by: OverTheRiverThruTheHood on August 15, 2018 1:12pm
“the same person overdosed three times in six hours.” They don’t take the drugs away when someone OD’s? WTF. And I am not suggesting jailing addicts, but an involuntary 24 hours at the psych ward or equivalent might not be a bad idea.
posted by: observer1 on August 15, 2018 1:19pm
This is one argument for minimum staffing levels in the fire department. People will be people and you can’t cure stupid.
“In one case, the same victim overdosed a second time after being revived at the hospital and released, according to Alston. In another case, the same person overdosed three times in six hours.”
posted by: bashman on August 15, 2018 1:44pm
Downtown, Drug Haven. I used love going down there reading a nice book, now only drug addicts are allowed. Why can’t they do this in the middle of the night when no is around to save them.
posted by: eastshore on August 15, 2018 1:51pm
@Ilivehere What does the APT Foundation have to do with these overdoses? Does the APT Foundation distribute K2? Sure some of these victims may be patients of the Foundation, but I don’t see why this is a question that “needs to be answered”. The question that needs to be answered is, who is selling this garbage? Answer that question and maybe tomorrow will not be such an overdose filled day as today.
posted by: AverageTaxpayer on August 15, 2018 2:05pm
I hope these individuals are okay. It sounds like they will be.
But what is with the rampant selling and using of drugs on the Town Green? Is the Green meant to be a public space, to be enjoyed by one and all, families included? Or is it going to be a homeless and druggies hang out?
Btw, where the hell are Ann Calabresi and the rest of the Proprietors? You know, those special “stewards” who play such an important role in mis-managing downtown’s greatest resource? If they gave a crap, they would let the Town Green Special Service District take over management of the space. One constable and a couple of ambassadors could go a long way towards making the Green a safe place for all to enjoy.
posted by: chrisjohngilson on August 15, 2018 2:07pm
I feel like it bears saying in response to Bikyst’s comment, but synthetic marijuana is different than marijuana. It is something cooked up in a lab rather than grown in the ground, and therefore shouldn’t have any more bearing on the legalization of (real) marijuana than legal or illegal opioids, for or against.
posted by: tmctague on August 15, 2018 2:34pm
NHI, your tag of synthetic marijuana could confuse readers at a time when legalization is starting to look feasible. If you start printing words like “Narcan” and “fentanyl”, then get the word “marijuana” outta there! Willfully obtuse readers will use this media to fuel their opposition to legalization of a much safer and different drug.
Call it what you want, there’s tons of drug activity in and around the Green since the opioid boom. Sometimes it looks like young men from Fairfield and Simsbury pack their bags for a few nights on the streets of New Haven for an opiate bender. I walk around downtown all the time and see addicts everywhere and services nowhere. I should see street outreach workers, pamphlets, ads, clinics, etc. all around the Green - the epicenter of NHV County’s opiate crisis. I see sweaty firefighters roaring through traffic standing around collapsed addicts, and cops busting up groups of addicts, but not much else. What’s up???
posted by: Dennis Serf on August 15, 2018 2:55pm
Looks like the residents and taxpayers aren’t getting very much in return for the 11% tax increase. This smacks of failed leadership at the Mayors Office and NHPD. A $600 million a year budget, and the City can’t find a way to clean up the Green?
It’s the centerpiece for downtown and it’s controlled by drug addicts, people drinking alcohol in public, and the homeless. We need a zero tolerance for this type of activity. Move the damn bus stops and clean up the green so those of us who live, work and pay taxes here can use it.
Please cue the Circus song…AGAIN. Better yet, just keep it on AutoPlay
posted by: ILivehere on August 15, 2018 3:03pm
@eastshore, The APT foundation is the only clinic in the state that gives out methadone without drug testing. The result is addicts come from all over the state to get methadone in the morning and then camp out on the green all day until they get their night time dose. then they head back home on the buses. The APT foundation is essentially dumping this problem on us. and so to answer @AverageTaxpayer’s question of whats with the rampant selling of drugs on the green the answer is the APT foundation is whats up with it.
posted by: AverageTaxpayer on August 15, 2018 3:07pm
@ NHI — no comment from any of the Proprietors? Anne Calabresi? What about Judge Janet Bond Arterton? Robert B. Dannies, Jr.? Albertus Magnus ex-President Julia McNamara? Kica Matos?
Surely one of the Proprietors must be on the Green today, with so much going on. What changes are they going to make to rid the public square of so much blatant drug dealing and drug use?
posted by: eastshore on August 15, 2018 3:16pm
@Ilivehere APT does drug test. It is a federal law for all methadone clinics. Anyway, there are no reliable, affordable drug screens for K2 at this time.
posted by: Dennis Serf on August 15, 2018 3:24pm
This story made the CNN homepage..Great PR for New Haven and Yale..
(CNN) As New Haven Fire Chief John Alston Jr. spoke to reporters about a spate of drug overdoses on Wednesday, he heard shouting coming from behind him. “We’re getting another call of a person,” Alston said. He quickly helped coordinate the response, and then returned to the microphone. That scene came on the same day that 23 people on New Haven Green and two people from other parts of the Connecticut city were believed to have overdosed on some form of K2 that may have been laced with opioids, officials said.The patients included people of all different ages and demographics, Alston said.
“It’s a nationwide problem. Let’s address it that way,”
No, let’s not address is that way Chief Alston. I travel to NYC often and you don’t see this in Central Park or Madison Square Park. And you don’t see it in other towns in CT. You see it in New Haven because Mayor Harp and the NHPD have allowed the addicts, drunks and homeless to take over the parks. Just as they have allowed the dirt bikes to take over the streets. Get your S@*T together. We taxpayers are tired of the bull$@#t
posted by: ILivehere on August 15, 2018 3:31pm
@eastshore They may test but they dispense pass or fail. The don’t need to test for K2 they should just test for everything they can. The point is they are dumping there patients on the green for use to deal with all day everyday rather then taking care of them. Add to that we get the entire states population of addicts that are simultaneously on drugs and methadone and you get 18 people overdosing on whatever they can buy on the green at the same time. This is why its important to ask how many are APT patients because i’m betting its all 18.
Apt needs to step up and create a space for there patients to congregate during the day that does not put the burden on the tax payers and our police force. Just like when crown street was full of shootings at hip hop clubs what the population that you bring to the city does right outside your door should still be your problem.
posted by: 1644 on August 15, 2018 3:52pm
Observer: It’s an argument for minimum manning, but even more powerful argument for shifted NHFD focus from firefighting to EMS. Want to be a career firefighter in Branford or Guilford? Be a paramedic. Want to clean up this problem? Yes, jail addicts, or just stop responding to the overdoses.
posted by: TheMadcap on August 15, 2018 3:57pm
“I travel to NYC often “
I think you need to explore NYC a bit more.
posted by: mmrmike1 on August 15, 2018 4:43pm
Today I was downtown during parts of this fiasco. As I witnessed the paramedics, emt’s, police officers, firefighters, and ambulance crews working together as a team I was highly impressed by their professionalism and compassion toward these victims. All of these men and woman deserve our support and respect for the difficult jobs they do everyday. Now it is time for the City of New Haven to take back our green. The corner of Chapel and Temple is controlled by the addicts and homeless. Between the drinking,drugs and fights makes this corner unsafe for everyone. Lets get the police start enforcing the laws and get these people off the streets. Why should the hard working people waiting for buses have to put up with this abuse. Mayor Harp it’s time to stand up and take care of this problem. We don’t want talk We Want Action!!!
posted by: Esbey on August 15, 2018 5:19pm
Great job by the police and firefighters, much praise for them. But it is obviously a choice by the city to tolerate the rampant drug use and drug selling that goes on here. Rather than a central gathering space for the city, we have let it become the central gathering space for the region’s drug addicts, who then fall prey to the region’s drug-sellers. The Green’s Proprietors claim to hate the idea of commercial activity on the Green, but it is now a drug marketplace. According to the story, the same addict obtained K2 three times in six hours: that is one active marketplace.
Consider city promotional slogan that is suggested in the story: “You have your potheads. You have your pillheads. You have your alcoholics .... And then there are the K2 smokers.”
This has to stop.
posted by: AverageTaxpayer on August 15, 2018 5:25pm
Where are the damn Proprietors?
They’ve been invited to come to the Downtown-Wooster Square Community Mangement Team, but they’ve never graced the neighborhood with their presence. (They once sent an emissary, to announce changes that never materialized.)
Isn’t it time for the Green to be turned over to a group of active stewards? Imagine how different the Green could be with the equivalent organizational support of the Shubert? I’m sure downtown businesses and Yale would help fund serious infrastructural improvements. But so long as five secretive people claim to own the Center square, that isn’t happening.
Anne Calabresi should be ashamed of this legacy.
posted by: narcan on August 15, 2018 6:11pm
The APT Foundation’s policy of freely dispensing legal heroin (let’s call methadone what it is) is absolutely a huge part of the problem. Addicts from all over the state know to come here because they can test dirty and still get high, grab a K2 buzz on the green for a chaser until its time for the evening dose and a bus ride home.
Nobody is dying from K2; it does not, by itself, cause respiratory depression. If 20 people being deep into a nod on the green is news, you must not ever walk around the green at 1pm on any given day. Glad they took a drug dealer off the street for a few hours, but maybe we should be looking to see if there was a dosing error on Congress Ave. today…
I have a hard time blaming NHPD for the mess here, I think that responsibility lay squarely at the feet of 121 Elm St. The police can only cite or arrest.
Now go take a look at how often drug dealers are released on promise to appears only to be out selling again before the ink is dry on the arrest report. If they are by some chance found guilty (after being taken into custody on their Failure to Appear bench warrant), they get a conditional discharge that is seemingly unbreakable. Or perhaps look at the repeated drunks having their dozens of drinking tickets dismissed with nothing more than the minor inconvenience of a morning in court to discourage further infractions. What happened to a week in jail? You might actually get someone off the sauce if they have enough opportunities to detox.
Police are only effective at deterring crime if being arrested has negative repercussions. And the problem population we are speaking of here laughs at the prospect of going to court.
posted by: Ulmus Civitas on August 15, 2018 6:36pm
Drug addicts on the green and financial debt addicts nearby at city hall. What a lovely town.
posted by: opin1 on August 15, 2018 6:39pm
So on a Wednesday morning, 40+ people are getting high on the Green. And that number only includes those doing a single drug from a single dealer. How many other people were high on other drugs? or high on similar drugs from a different source? If a batch wasn’t tainted it would be just like any other day. I knew there were a lot of addicts wandering around the Green but these numbers are just staggering.
posted by: robn on August 15, 2018 7:23pm
Mayor Harp de-prioritized the NHV Green from day one and since then the bad behavior has gotten worse and worse. Just one more failure on top of lavish spending on herself, an 11% tax hike for homeowners and renters, and an illegal refinancing of debt that added $84,000,000 of pure debt to pay off. This has got to stop.
posted by: LivingInNewHaven on August 15, 2018 8:11pm
Mayor Harp, the Police Dept, the Fire Dept and Yale have nothing to do with the fact that folks are addicted to drugs and overdose. You people sound really ignorant. The city did an excellent job in saving the lives of the folks who OD’d, some multiple times. Kudos to all of New Haven’s First Responders!!!
posted by: yim-a on August 15, 2018 8:12pm
As a suboxone I’ve noticed, for about 3 months now, fentanyl in the urine drug samples of patients who only smoke marajuana. Previously fentanyl only with cocaine and heroin. Someone’s changing the recipe and it’s more than K2.
posted by: JCFremont on August 15, 2018 8:46pm
Great job New Haven welcomed some tennis players to New Haven today, told them hey where not Chicago, we not smart enough to do any real damage. @Avgtaxpayer, oh I’m sure Anne Calabrese and The Proprieters have some strong ideas for the Green that won’t jibe with cities current Anything Goes attitudes. Are they planing a repeat performance to welcome Yale’s newest class to the Old Campus?
posted by: mrsvenable on August 15, 2018 8:51pm
@DennisSerf: Really? You don’t see this is in NYC? From the New York Times tonight:
“Mass overdoses on K2 have happened regularly in New York City over the past few years. In May, 56 people were treated for K2 overdoses in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, near the intersection of Broadway and Myrtle Street.
During a three-day stretch in July 2016, at least 130 people across New York City were hospitalized after overdosing on K2, with at least 33 people becoming sick in a neighborhood along the border of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick.”
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on August 15, 2018 8:58pm
Wow.Here is the History.
KEEPING FENTANYL OUT OF THE US WILL TAKE MORE THAN A WALL.
one is causing more devastation than others: fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is far more likely to result in overdose deaths. Because it’s a challenge to produce, the labs producing fentanyl should be a reasonably easy target in the battle against opioid addiction. But rooting out these drugs is a game of whack-a-mole; once the DEA targets a specific chemical composition, a new one pops up. Ending the opioid crisis will take more cunning than a wall.Unlike heroin (derived from poppies), cocaine (processed from coca leaves), or methamphetamine (cooked in garage-sized labs), producing fentanyl and its deadlier analogs pretty much requires a graduate degree in illicit chemistry. “They are fairly sophisticated clandestine laboratory processes, more complicated than methamphetamine, and require some degree of chemistry knowledge,” says Russ Baer, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Agency. “It’s not a do-it-yourself or look it up on the internet and I can produce it tomorrow process.”You can, however, order it up on the internet. Right now, most of the drug sneaks into the illicit drug marketplace from Chinese online pharmacies. “A lot of fentanyl comes through the US mail and mailing services down to 100 or 200 grams,” says Baer. “They are able to cut out the middleman, order from the internet from the vendor and two or three days later have those deadly substances on the front door.
Whilst I’m no great fan of either NHPD and NHFD, as I think they are both over staffed and grossly overpaid through overtime, I was highly impressed by both department’s activities on the Green today. I have to say a VERY WELL DONE.
I am no great conspiracy theorist either, but I think Russian involvement needs to be investigated as a possibility. The Trump administration has recently announced new sanctions against Russia following their poisoning with nerve agents of former KGB spies and civilians in the UK. Are they doing it here? The proximity to Yale University and the publicity will frighten off prospective, highly intelligent students who would do well in our security services.
I may be totally paranoic, but this possibility needs to be looked into.
posted by: Chrisssy on August 15, 2018 9:14pm
Imagine the cost of all this free care! Police, fire, hospital workers,etc. In the meantime I would like to know if there were delays in getting an ambulance for truly sick people and how long they had to wait in ED while ED staff were busy taking care the K2 ODers
posted by: budgeteer on August 15, 2018 9:21pm
Kudos to the first responders. But this story makes me, a New Yorker, more hesitant to visit New Haven. And it’s on the BBC now. So New Haven’s and Yale’s reputations are suffering worldwide.
posted by: southwest on August 15, 2018 9:33pm
My God how can one be dumb enough to over dose three times on the same stuff..Three strikes in my opinion you out of the game and shouldn’t be allowed to be resuscitated again if you devalue your life that much..
posted by: Ex-NHPD on August 15, 2018 10:07pm
Maybe the new City Flag can be a police officer with their hands tied, looking onto the Green, with an illustration of all the daily misdeeds occurring there. Just like the NHI flag article said; no words, and immediate recognition of what the symbols represent.
The “Jewel” of the city, sitting between City Hall and Yale University, has become a complete blight. It didn’t happen overnight.
An utter failure due to City Hall trying to social engineer their way out of the problem, for years and years.
posted by: eastshore on August 15, 2018 10:38pm
@narcan APT patients receive one dose daily of methadone. All clinics stop medicating at 2pm, so no one is returning for an evening dose. At least know the facts before commenting. I won’t even get into the differences between heroin and methadone. You can look it up. The information is readily available.
posted by: Kevin McCarthy on August 16, 2018 6:27am
Anne Calabrese is a friend, and has done an enormous amount of good for New Haven. She and her fellow Proprietors are not responsible for the reality of drug addiction. But the overdoses are happening on their property. They, the management team, the Town Green District, and the city need to develop a plan to address the needs of both the drug users and the public at large.
Eastshore, APT is obviously not distributing K2 or other illegal drugs. But its policies lead to the market for these drugs being concentrated on and near the Green. I understand APT’s rationale for continuing to provide methadone and similar drugs to users with dirty tests. But this policy is having substantial negative side effects that affect the city as a whole. I think it would be helpful for APT to temporarily modify or suspend its policy while the affected parties develop a long-term solution.
posted by: 1644 on August 16, 2018 6:38am
mrsvenable: Bed-Sty and Bushwick, in particular, are pretty out of the way, hinterlands of an outer borough, not the city center like Central Park or Madison Square. Tomkins Square used to be full of derelicts/down-on-their-luck people, but a serious of clearances by the NYPD pushed them out. Alphabet City, once funky and full of junkies, is now pretty gentrified. As for Bushwick, a sister-in-law of mine spent her early years there in a lovely brownstone. The city de-gentrified the neighborhood, taking the brownstone rows by eminent domain, leveling them, and constructing public housing which would concentrate poverty and crime in her former neighborhood.
posted by: NHPLEB on August 16, 2018 7:06am
Hmm. A few thoughts for the many comments: @Gimp—yes, you are paranoid. It’s not the Russians so you can calm down.
1. If you OD 3X’s; you want to die, so allow them their right to life. We allow women to decide which babies will live and which will die so surely we can allow people already born to do the same! 2. Loitering is a crime. Push the people away from the Green. 3. Thanks, suburbia, for sending us your addicts and then complaining about how you have to help cities like NH that house methadone clinics and mental health agency services. You are so righteous in your disdain for cities that you forget your own folks are among us! 4. The Proprietors will not be patrolling the Green but they should be pushing the City to enforce its laws and make it safe for all to visit our center . 5. Why can’t drug addicts overdose at home? Why must it be in public places? 6. Thanks, addicts. Can’t wait to see how much it cost us to treat and transport all the druggies . Let’s have some data so I can see my tax dollars at work! 7. WELCOME TENNIS FANS & YALIES!!! NEW HAVEN- LOOK WHAT WE’VE GOT!!
posted by: Andrew Giering on August 16, 2018 7:21am
Mayor, please put some pressure on the APT Foundation, including to pay for additional police officers at their facilities and near bus stops, and remind them that there are other excellent, accessible locations in other cities and towns.
posted by: robn on August 16, 2018 7:26am
The mayor sent hoards of city employees down to the Green this morning for a clean up. Too late, the national news cameras have already come and gone.
posted by: 1644 on August 16, 2018 7:39am
Why is this happening? In part, because we have surrendered in the war on drugs, yet continue to support and condone illegal drug use. Politicians from Obama to Malloy to Porter to Harp have opposed incarceration for non-violent crimes such as drug dealing and possession. Even violent crimes such as assault do not lead to incarceration. A misdemeanor charge, which should mean up to a year in prison, now effectively means no jail time at all.
posted by: Noteworthy on August 16, 2018 7:45am
Observe and Hold Those Accountable Notes:
1. When you have more than 70 people keeling over all in the same place - you have a clear picture of the amount of drug use and sales happening every day on the New Haven Green - across the street from City Hall and around the corner from the NHPD headquarters.
2. The problem has been ignored by the incorporators, by City Hall and the police. When Yale is in session - there are tons of cops all over downtown, on the Green, nearby the Green.
3. If the incorporators aren’t paying attention to what’s happening on their property - what good are they and what kind of ownership are you taking for the centerpiece of New Haven?
4. NHFD Chief Alston’s BS comments about a national problem are a disgrace. There is a national problem, but having it concentrated in the middle of town, having more than 70 overdose in a single day - is not a national problem. It’s a local problem that’s been allowed to fester, grow and worsen. And no, the people using these drugs do not come from all demographics. And oh, by the way, you also don’t have 70 overdose all over the country in a day, let alone a week or month.
5. Fix the problem. With claims of unlimited overtime, fat budgets - there is zero reason for it not to be solved.
6. By the way - don’t be amazed at the emergency response - this is what we pay them to do. That they are there is an indication they aren’t doing all that they’re supposed to be doing.
posted by: mrsvenable on August 16, 2018 7:53am
@1644: I understand quite well the geography of NYC and don’t need the history lesson. Bushwick and Bed-Stuy are still out of my price range, and this kind of mass overdose could happen anywhere, including Central Park. Addiction can happen to anyone, including you.
posted by: TheMadcap on August 16, 2018 7:55am
“Politicians from Obama to Malloy to Porter to Harp have opposed incarceration for non-violent crimes such as drug dealing and possession”
Yeah, because it’s dumb, there is literally decades of evidence to highlight the fact it is counterproductive at this point
“Loitering is a crime. Push the people away from the Green.”
Then why even have the Green? Bulldoze it and build more apartments.Seriously, it’s hard to argue someone is loitering at a park, which is exactly the point police have made in the past about issues like these
posted by: James Sunderland on August 16, 2018 8:34am
@1644 Even when the war on drugs was in full force it did nothing to stop drug addictions and in some cases made matters worse. It contributed to the US having one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. So no- giving up on the war on the drugs is not the issue. The issue is we haven’t picked up on the other side of the problem. Addiction is a public health issue. It is a documented mental health disorder, and not a choice like so many commenters here and on other articles at other news sources claim. We have failed to treat it as such. We lessen the criminal charges but we don’t increase the permanent health care solutions. Places like APT are acting like duck tape on a sinking Titanic.
Frankly, all drugs should be legalized and regulated. Drug addiction should be treated like any other disease.
posted by: Kevin McCarthy on August 16, 2018 8:45am
1644, Tompkins Square Park still has homeless people, most notably in the area by the bathrooms (I regularly go to the farmers market at the park). What has changed is that the park now attracts a much larger population of housed persons. Unlike the Green, I rarely see ambulances at the park. This suggests that the park users are not using drugs there (other than pot).
posted by: ILivehere on August 16, 2018 9:13am
@mrsvenable addiction can happen to anyone but the APT foundation dumps a mass population of addicts on our front door and turns there back on the problem they created. The proprietors refuse to let anyone solve the problem and they don’t care because they don’t live here. All the proprietors care about is the trees and flowers they are so out of touch. A group should get together and sue APT and the Proprietors on behalf of downtown land owners. The green is the largest drag on property values and business generation in the city.
posted by: Patricia Kane on August 16, 2018 9:29am
That yesterday’s mass catastrophe did not result in anyone’s death is a tribute to the professionalism and compassion of all the personnel who intervened. The politically motivated “War on Drugs”, instituted by the Nixon White House to target “hippies and blacks” because they voted Dem, is a colossal, expensive and long term failure which was easily predicted because of the lessons (not) learned in the Prohibition era. Last I read, alcohol is responsible for more deaths annually, but it is legal, taxed and regulated. Under all addictions are issues of trauma and how a person is “wired”. Having had some of the best drugs available for medically necessary reasons, I’m just not wired to live on Percoset or morphine, etc. But our bars and liquor stores prove the need to dull the pain of living. The people flocking to clinics here and passing out on the Green are symptoms of a society that has failed to provide for its most vulnerable people: the mentally ill, the jobless, the homeless, the friendless and the victims of trauma. When the Newtown Hospital was closed by court order, community based housing for out-patient care was to be built. It never happened. The federal government cut funding for public housing and cities and states couldn’t fill the gap. I would like to know how the LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) program is progressing. It is a model that avoids criminalizing social problems and seeks to provide services (housing first, medical care, etc.) to keep people safe and to support them in making better choices, if possible. It saddens me to see the lack of empathy of those who condemn these troubled individuals, -someone’s child, someone’s parent, someone’s friend,- without understanding how they got to this place. We do need a plan, more than a bloated military budget. What we are seeing is a symptom of a society that has lost its sense of community.
posted by: Jacks on August 16, 2018 9:35am
The Apt Foundation is not the issue. They do drug test people and if you go and appear to be under the influence they will NOT dose you. I’ve seen it happen multiple times. Methadone is a treatment for opiate abuse and dependence not for drug addiction. It’s a tool among others to help combat this epidemic we are in. There is a cop outside the clinic daily to combat many of the issues discussed. And to the person referring to it as legal heroin, how many people do you know committing crime to score their methadone dose? If you had some sense you would base your comments off of facts which are the majority of persons on the methadone clinic are doing well and it has provided a foundation for them to build a life upon. However your basing the entire population on the actions of a handful (several of which I know for a fact are not on the methadone clinic). And jail does nothing to deter people from using. How many studies need to be done for lay people to recognize jail doesn’t do anything but cost us a ridiculous amount of tax dollars.
posted by: anonymous on August 16, 2018 9:53am
“She and her fellow Proprietors are not responsible for the reality of drug addiction. But the overdoses are happening on their property. They, the management team, the Town Green District, and the city need to develop a plan to address the needs of both the drug users and the public at large.”
Yes, along with Yale, they need to treat this as a real emergency and develop a plan and begin an immediate response within the next 24 hours. I’m not sure that they appreciate the urgency of this situation.
In addition to the public health issues (which are a whole other discussion), they could start by making sure the broken glass and cigarettes are picked up off the Green for once. It’s a gorgeous public space, but much of it is always littered with paper, glass, dime bags, and other items, and many people avoid it for that reason. The Green used to have a lot more sunbathers, children, frisbee players, and people coming to eat lunch on the benches. Keeping the place maintained as well as other central city parks are in places like Boston, Philadelphia, and NYC would help, as it could bring more pedestrian traffic and boost the are stores that are going to suffer as more and more people avoid the area.
Beginning tomorrow, they could have an army of people working overtime to maintain the walkways, benches, and bus stop areas, hire people to plant flowers, fix the broken fences, help the churches maintain their property better, clean each area several times every day, and staff more events. A plan to address the various public health and safety issues there will take a little longer.
The Parks Department doesn’t have any money for this, so others need to step up and make a major commitment to this today.
posted by: JDoe on August 16, 2018 10:01am
When I was a kid having your Special K every day was a good thing. The times they are-a-changiin’
posted by: Not Worthy on August 16, 2018 10:12am
The dealer should be severely punished with jailtime. Our cold society generates lots of desperate people, who self-medicate with drugs. Until we become less cold, we need to manage these people with case workers, and allow them to self-medicate with safe, legal marijuana.
The Green has long been a dead zone because it is surrounded on side by a moat, on two other sides by exclusionary office buildings, and on one side by retail. For that reason there is little real pedestrian traffic except during public festivals and Sunday church, and users find the trees and benches a convenient place to hang out. There must be some way the City, Yale, and the Owners, taking cues from e.g. Italian piazzas, can develop it into a lively and fun pedestrian space. Leave the trees and the churches but put in more paving, fountains, features, booths, food carts, and make it a space that townies and gownies consider a destination.
posted by: LookOut on August 16, 2018 10:52am
Thanks Gov Malloy for your policy of reducing prosecution of drug crimes and pushing to reduce sentences and get drug criminals back out on the street. This is the result. Let’s ask the next Gov candidates what their stance is.
“And no, the people using these drugs do not come from all demographics.”
We all know what you mean.
posted by: Marion on August 16, 2018 2:07pm
@AverageTaxpayer - The proprietors are largely a group of elderly dilettantes who like to acquire titles but have little desire to invest the time and do the work necessary to managing the Green well. The title is a notch on their social resumes. Their inaction over many years led to the current disgraceful condition of the Green. The city should use eminent domain or other legal tool to get rid of them and take control of what is in reality a public space. The whole notion of private proprietors is a historical anachronism, a relic of colonial New Haven that has little justification today.
posted by: 1644 on August 16, 2018 2:37pm
Marion: Yes, the city has lots of loose cash to fund an eminent domain action. Even if the city were to get the Green for free, what do you think would change? Do you think Harp, or anyone New Haveners would elect, could manage the Green any better? Remember, this is a crowd that blows $50K on a trip to China while $16 million short on their budget.
I lived downtown during the war on drugs, and the Green was nothing like it is today. Occasionally, Yalies would play Ultimate on the statehouse site, otherwise the upper Green was a shady place of contemplation, an oasis from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Incarceration may or may not help drug users and dealers, but it does keep them away from the rest of us, and keeps them from criminal activity to support their habits.
posted by: Marion on August 16, 2018 4:45pm
@1644—I agree with some of what you say. But the city has full-time lawyers on the civil service payroll, so it wouldn’t cost anything to take it by eminent domain, and even that assumes the proprietors would challenge the city in court out of a personal desire to keep their positions. Plus, the city already pays the costs of maintaining the Green, including capital expenses, police patrols and protection, garbage collection, defense of personal injury claims for those who get hurt on the green, you name it. Why does the city fund the cost of a green allegedly “owned” by private individuals?? The proprietors are generous when it comes to giving the city the privilege of PAYING for almost all costs associated with the green, and in using the city parks department and other city agencies to clean and maintain it, but they get “proprietary” when it comes to how the green is to be used, maintained or improved. They sponge money from the city, and then stand back on their right to make all decisions and keep all authority over the Green. It’s a one-way street with them. While it’s true that Mayor Harp and the the city administrators cannot be presumed able to do better, it is at least the case that they would be accountable to the city’s taxpayers and voters for the condition of the green, and a mayor faces re-election every two years. The proprietors, on the other hand, are accountable to nobody because they are self-appointed for life. So there are more ups than downs in getting rid of them.
posted by: wendy1 on August 16, 2018 5:55pm
New Haven flag—-a slice, a pitbull, a joint, and a syringe.
@NHPLEB—if loitering is a crime, you’re as guilty as I am.
posted by: Jak on August 17, 2018 2:29am
This iß a horrible and ridiculous situation. Then there are repeat ODs in the same day Notice this is all because of illegal and illicit street drugs, NOT chronic pain patients that take opioid meds! Less than 3% of Legally prescribed opioid meds are abused in any way, or do they get addicted. That’s a fact. Our government and its agencies are inhumanely Torturing Millions of innocent CPP instead of trying to solve our addiction Crisis we see in this article! The main reason for our governments huge screw up here is Only because of financial greed. Even I can prove that our FDA, DEA, and CDC have Been working for “special interests groups (including big pharma) for at least the past 4 years. That’s why all the meds to fight addiction are So expensive. Sessions and Klodny are both profiting Legally to because they both get partial profits from those special interest groups they are part of.
posted by: ILivehere on August 17, 2018 2:23pm
@eastshore City hall announced that 60% of the people who overdosed over the past two days were patients of the APT Foundation, according to the Mayor’s Office
This is the real story! Overdoes happen everywhere The story is how APT has turned downtown in to a drug cesspool.
posted by: adelaide12 on August 17, 2018 2:23pm
This comment is directed towards “ILiveHere” - As a current patient of the APT Foundation, I find it imperative to clear up your ignorant and misguided viewpoints on people that seek treatment at The APT Foundation. First of all, many of us are normal, hardworking citizens (with full-time jobs, believe it or not) and places to live. If you took one look at me you would never suspect that I go to the APT Foundation. Their treatment has saved my life and completely turned my life around. I know many can vouch for them and say the same.
“The APT foundation is the only clinic in the state that gives out methadone without drug testing” - NOT TRUE. We get drug tested and breathalyzed on a weekly basis.
“The result is addicts come from all over the state to get methadone in the morning and then camp out on the green all day until they get their night time dose” - People do come from all over the state from the bus routes, yes. However, we are only dosed once a day. You don’t get methadone twice a day. You get one dose. One dose every 24 hours.
Selling bogus K2 on the New Haven green has nothing to do with the APT foundation and I can tell you, as I’ve been a patient for 2 years, I can count on one hand the number of familiar faces I see both at the green AND at the clinic. Most of the people on the green are NOT patients of the APT Foundation.
Please get your facts straight before posting next time. Drug dealers selling K2 to homeless people on the New Haven green has very little to do, if ANY, with the populations seeking treatment at the APT Foundation.
posted by: ILivehere on August 17, 2018 5:13pm
@adelaide12 All I can do is tell you the sargents in charge of downtown for the last at least 3 years would disagree with you and that clearly city hall disagrees as well because they are holding a special session of the human services committee on September 12 specifically to discuss the problems APT is causing in our downtown.
posted by: observer1 on August 18, 2018 4:39am
The question now, is who is going to pay the ambulance and hospital bills for the people that were transported? The substance abusers, the city, the state or the taxpayers who pay the bills of the city and state? Or does the ambulance company or the hospital just write the bill off as uncollected? Just curious and would like a follow up on what this debacle cost in monetary terms.
posted by: 1644 on August 18, 2018 6:48am
James Sunderland: Of course we had addiction in the 1980’s, but much less than now. We certainly did not have dozens of people passed out on the Green. Most surveys showed a decline in drug use during the 1980’s. The increase in incarceration was also accompanied with a decrease in crime. Personally, I saw the toll drug use took in the age cohort just ahead of mine: Jimi Hendrix, etc. Later, I would see Rush Limbaugh. I joked that I never took narcotic painkillers because I they would turn me into rich and fat, with a conversation radio show, but the point is, I never took them, even after major surgery, because I knew they could be addictive. Drug use is a choice. The problem with legalization is most, like you, don’t want those who choose to use drugs to bear the consequences of their use. Instead, taxpayers are expected to fund endless EMS response, hospitalizations, and treatment.
posted by: Patricia Kane on August 18, 2018 11:45am
@1644: Your information about addiction being a choice is out of date, especially where opioids are involved. And I don’t trust your statement that an increase in incarceration produced a decrease in crime. Reduce crime rates have been attributed to multiple causes. You have to face the fact that the criminalization of addiction has failed to solve the problem.
posted by: 1644 on August 18, 2018 12:46pm
observer: My understanding is that NHFD only bills for its medical services when it transports patients, which it rarely does. So, the fire dept/ EMT services are paid by city and state tax payers. For AMR ambulance and YNHH ED/ER/A&E services, patients may have: insurance through employment or through their parents (especially for those under age 26). Others may have Medicaid 50% state/50% federal taxpayers), which means federal and state taxpayers will cover their bills. The hospital tries to get eligible people enrolled if they don’t have it, already. If people are not eligible for Medicaid, the cost uncompensated care is shifted to those with private insurance, and some to state and federal taxpayers through special programs that make payments to providers with large amounts of uncompensated care.
posted by: omgreally1977 on August 18, 2018 4:27pm
If I understand the comments correctly, why would an organization called Town Green Special Services District not be allowed to have its Ambassadors set foot on The Green? That would be an interesting story.
posted by: ILivehere on August 18, 2018 7:58pm
@omgreally1977 The green is not part of the district. They have been begging the proprietors for years to allow them to do social work but the proprietors don’t see it as a problem. They can’t clean the green because the the city has control of it and the unions won’t allow anyone else to do that type of work on city controld property. Town green given the chance would eradicate the issue but hasn’t been allowed.
posted by: 1644 on August 19, 2018 8:20am
PK: I didn’t say addiction was a choice. Addicts, however, aren’t born using drugs (crack babies excepted). At some point in their lives, they decide to use them. That first use, at least, is a choice. As for incarceration, it doesn’t “solve” the problem, but is does ameliorate it. It will deter some people, coerce others into treatment, and, in any case, prevent those incarcerated from committing crimes to support their addictions and keep them out of public spaces like the Green.