New database tracks drug crimes for NY region

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News,Science and Technology

NEW YORK (AP) — A database is giving law enforcement in the New York City region a new tool in the fight against prescription drug-related crimes.

Sen. Charles Schumer, who pushed the Drug Enforcement Administration for its creation, called it the first of its kind in the country. He was scheduled to officially unveil it along with federal and local law enforcement officials on Friday.

"Law enforcement is really excited about this, they think it will really help them put a dent in prescription drug crime," he told The Associated Press.

The database, which has been running since the start of the year, allows different law enforcement agencies to share information about prescription drug-related crimes, in order to see any patterns in terms of what geographic areas are being targeted, what drugs are being sought and tactics criminals are using.

Having that information will help law enforcement make better use of their resources, Schumer said.

"The best way we have learned to prevent crime and stop crime is to study it," he said, likening the database to CompStat, a program used by the New York Police Department to track crime and target resources to where criminals have the highest activity.

He said he hoped the database would spread nationwide. Since its start, just over 100 cases from 2012 have been entered, including 50 burglaries and 32 robberies. Among prescription pills, oxycodone and hydrocodone products were the most targeted.

There have been several high-profile crimes connected to prescription drugs in recent years. In June 2011, four people were killed when a robber walked into a Long Island pharmacy and shot the pharmacist, a teenage store clerk and two customers before leaving with a backpack full of pills containing hydrocodone. David Laffer was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the crimes.

In December 2011, also on Long Island, a gunman with a history of holdups took money and painkillers from a pharmacy before being killed. An off-duty federal agent who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan was killed while trying to intervene.

Last month, the NYPD outlined a plan to fight prescription drug thefts by asking thousands of pharmacies in the city to hide fake pill bottles fitted with GPS devices with the legitimate supplies on their shelves. The GPS bottles would help track any thieves who take them.

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