Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard joined New Hampshire's two U.S. Senators in Washington Wednesday to testify on a bill aimed at combating the heroin epidemic.
The bill calls for $70 million in new spending, but the precise amount that would go to New Hampshire hasn’t been worked out yet.
If the bill passes, the money would go towards a number of areas including treatment for people battling addiction while in prison, drug prevention efforts in schools, and expanding access to the overdose reversal drug Narcan.
Willard told members of U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that last year his officers responded to almost four times as many overdose calls as in 2013. “Today far too often fentanyl and heroin are at the direct or indirect cause of any one public health issue in the city of Manchester," Willard said.
Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen made a similar point during her own testimony.
“Public health and law enforcement agencies at all levels lack the resources to mount an effective response to the heroin and opioid epidemic,” Shaheen said.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who's sponsoring the bill, also testified Wednesday. The Republican stressed that a broad approach is the only way to tackle this drug crisis.
“We can administer Narcan and our first responders are doing an amazing job of bringing people back to life, but if we don’t get the support and treatment for those struggling with addiction, we are not going to solve this problem," Ayotte said.
If the Senate Judiciary Committee approves the bill it will then head to the Senate floor.