STATEN ISLAND — The Staten Island District Attorney's office will start investigating every drug overdose death in the borough to try and trace the source of the drugs.
The move is an effort to curb climbing addiction rates in the borough.
District Attorney Michael McMahon, Borough President James Oddo, NYPD Assistant Chief Edward Delatorre and Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan announced the "Overdose Response Initiative" on Wednesday, the first of its kind in the city.
"Staten Islanders are facing loss to overdose deaths at an alarming rate," McMahon said in a statement.
"The Overdose Response Initiative, the first of its kind in New York City, will investigate overdose deaths in an effort to uncover who is peddling this fatal poison so that we can hold them accountable for the damage they are causing to Staten Island’s families and neighborhoods.
"My office is determined and committed to hunting down drug dealers, aggressively prosecuting them and sending them to prison."
Starting on March 1, every time a person dies from an OD in the borough the NYPD will notify the DA's office immediately. Information will be gathered about the deceased and an Assistant District Attorney will complete a questionnaire, McMahon said.
If the person had a cellphone on them at the time, the NYPD will voucher it and try to get consent to search it from family members. If given, information on it will be compared to other incidents to try to find links, McMahon said.
The Overdose Response Team will also interview family members, the Medical Examiner will do a full toxicology report and the information will be sent to the DA's Narcotic Bureau to try to find dealers who supplied victims.
"The Overdose Response Initiative will allow NYPD investigators to quickly gather evidence and more efficiently coordinate law enforcement efforts following the tragedy of an overdose death," Delatorre said in a statement.
"This unique approach will assist the NYPD and prosecuting agencies in their efforts to investigate and hold responsible those who distribute dangerous and illegal narcotics within our neighborhoods."
In 2014, 73 people died from prescription pill ODs — up from 63 the year before — and 42 died from heroin ODs, up from 32 in 2013, according to the Department of Health.