Passaic County Sheriff candidate Darren Woolridge says he will commit more of the department’s manpower to fighting the scourge of opioid drugs in the county if he is elected on November 5

Over the past three-and-a-half years, 828 people have died from opioid related deaths, according to a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, notes Woolridge. Thousands more lives are being destroyed by opioid addiction each year.

“The sheriff’s department,” says Woolridge a former sheriff’s officer, “has the money and manpower to be play a larger role in the battle against opioids in our communities – but the assets of the department are not being used to their potential by the current sheriff.”

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Woolridge notes that the total budget under control of the sheriff exceeds $73 million, with $14.32 million allocated this year to the sheriff’s office patrol unit.

“The resources are there to allow the sheriff’s department to play a bigger role in protecting our county residents, but for some reason the current sheriff is not applying those resources to the opioid epidemic. But I will,” said Woolridge.

In an interview with The Record on October 16, Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik admits he is finally waking up to the opioid crisis in Passaic County. He told the Record he wants to look into partnering with Bergen County to do “something” about opioids.

“I don’t know where the sheriff has been the past 9 years he’s been in office, but people in North Jersey have been dying from opioids,” said Woolridge.  “Route 23 is known as the heroin highway because of the drug users and dealers coming to and from Paterson to buy heroin.  But only now it appears is Sheriff Berdnik waking up to the opioid crisis. Where has he been?”

It was recently reported that the state is going to provide Paterson with a $150,000 grant to create an opioid response team. But apparently there is no role on the opioid response team for the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department, noted Woolridge

“If I am sheriff, I will support that response team with the resources in the department,” said Woolridge.  “We need a county sheriff who is paying attention to the reality of crime in Passaic County and is willing to act now to protect our communities.