Bridget Brennan’s Message
I write this message at a time when, as a city and as a nation, we face unprecedented challenges. The importance of how we respond at this critical moment cannot be overstated.
A year ago, we viewed the point we have reached as our goal – we can easily obtain effective vaccinations that enable us to reopen our city and our nation. However, we now realize that the most difficult part of the journey is ahead.
Our response to what we have lost and what we have learned since March of 2020 will shape our future for decades to come. More than 33,000 people died from COVID-19 in New York City alone as of June 2021. We mourn for them and for their families and are deeply concerned for all those who continue to endure hardship as a result of COVID-19. While the reopening is exhilarating to some who have felt isolated, the city faces logistical challenges and must adhere to sometimes conflicting guidance from public health officials.
Against the backdrop of the reopening of our courts and the surge in crime in the city and nation, we continue to process what we learned from summer’s mass demonstrations against inequities in the criminal justice system and widespread anger over the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. We have implemented many changes directed at doing our part to address systemic racism and are continuing to examine how we can improve our practices.
As the pandemic raged, drug overdoses in our city escalated. Our Office’s strategy is to focus on high-level narcotics traffickers who use New York City as a regional hub of drug distribution, seizing hundreds of pounds of deadly fentanyl, heroin and cocaine before it ever reaches the streets. With greater frequency, we see narcotics organizations armed with high-powered weapons and handguns. These are a priority for prosecution. We also respond to calls for assistance from communities beset by street-level drug networks, and organizations linked to overdose deaths and violence. Our expertise in prosecuting corrupt doctors and other medical practitioners involved in the illicit distribution of prescription drugs assures that those patients will receive competent treatment and the black market will not be flooded with dangerous addictive medications.
Our strategic approach promotes community safety and saves lives, while supporting alternatives to incarceration and lowering arrests.
A local prosecutors’ office with citywide jurisdiction, the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor (SNP) is responsible for felony narcotics investigations and prosecutions in the five boroughs of New York City. Built on a task force model, SNP is the only agency of its kind in the nation.
Under Ms. Brennan’s leadership, the office has developed expertise to meet challenges posed by each new phase of the deadly opioid epidemic. Ms. Brennan has worked to raise public awareness about the heighten risk of overdose, most recently linked to lethal synthetic opioid drugs that saturate the supply of narcotics in New York City.
Since assuming leadership of the agency, Ms. Brennan established the Heroin Trafficking Interdiction Unit, the Prescription Drug Investigation Unit, the Digital Forensic Unit, the Narcotics Gang Unit and the Money Laundering and Financial Investigation Unit.
SNP implements a strategic approach to protecting the public and saving lives that reduces arrests and incarceration. This approach is consistent with SNP’s commitment to promoting fairness and justice. By intercepting large amounts of lethal narcotics at the top of the supply chain, and investigating and prosecuting high-level traffickers, SNP prevents countless overdoses and street-level arrests.
In order to fulfill its public safety mission and reduce arrests and incarceration, SNP developed a multi-pronged approach to strategic enforcement that includes Supply Reduction, Overdose Death Investigations, Prescription Drug Investigations, Community Impact and Treatment Alternatives.
As its central mission, SNP works to prevent overdose deaths by removing bulk quantities of dangerous drugs from the highest levels of the supply chain. New York City serves as a regional hub for the distribution of narcotics produced by international trafficking organizations. Drug shipments flow through the city to local distributors and organizations in surrounding states.
Overdose Death Investigations
By investigating overdose deaths, SNP and its partners seek to identify organizations that supply lethal drugs and thereby prevent further fatalities. A close working relationship with public health agencies enables SNP to identify new lethal drugs impacting the city in order to develop effective strategies.
DRugs and violence
SNP strives to protect New York City neighborhoods from the destabilizing effects of drug-related violence by investigating a wide variety of organizations, from street gang affiliates to entrenched narcotics distribution groups. The office is committed to devoting resources to help strengthen communities impacted by narcotics-related crime.
Prescription Drug Investigations
Widely recognized for its expertise in investigating and prosecuting those involved illegal trafficking in prescription drugs, including corrupt medical practitioners, SNP’s Prescription Drug Investigation Unit (PDIU) was created in 2011. As a result of these enforcement efforts, combined with improved education for doctors, increased public awareness and enhanced regulatory systems, the supply of diverted prescription drugs in New York City has been reduced.
SNP responds to community complaints about narcotics trafficking by conducting investigations and providing resources to neighborhoods. Assistant District Attorneys work closely with the NYPD to address complaints about drug crimes and related violence. Additionally, the Community Outreach Unit meets with community and religious leaders, block associations, the New York City Housing Authority, while conferring regularly with NYPD officials to devise strategies to combat crime. Once an investigation is completed and a drug organization is removed from a building or neighborhood, resources are devoted toward providing community support services. Learn More
Eligible felony defendants with substance abuse disorder are provided with an array of treatment options. SNP’s Alternative Sentencing Division has successfully worked for 30 years to provide treatment services as an alternative to incarceration through SNP’s pioneering Drug Treatment Alternatives to Prison (DTAP) programs. Experienced office staff also assist in screening applicants for Judicial Diversion, which the New York State Legislature established in 2009, granting judges authority to evaluate eligibility for court-sponsored diversion programs. Because SNP prosecutes felony cases, as opposed to misdemeanors, alternative programs are offered post-arraignment. Learn More