Watch out, drug store cowboys.
After a bloody shootout at an East Harlem pharmacy last week, Senator Charles Schumer is stepping up the rhetoric for his Safe Doses Act, a bill he wrote that is currently crawling through the Senate.The legislation would increase the penalties for drug store robberies and give police much more authority in the investigation of illegal pill rings.
The fatal encounter Uptown involved two men on the hunt for pain medications, one of whom was wanted in Georgia for murder. Police officers gunned down and killed the fugitive, a 23-year-old named Rudolph Wyatt, while the other stock-masked accomplice escaped and is still at large. Both were armed and firing at authorities outside the RX Center on 1st Avenue and East 119th Street.
Last year, another deadly encounter
occurred at a Long Island pharmacy, where said shooter David Laffer shot and killed four people – the youngest of the victims being only 17 years old – as he rampaged through the store, searching for thousands of pain pills. With that being said, Schumer has enough reason to make the bill a top priority on his agenda.
According to the Senator, “The Safe Doses Act will help ensure that prescription drugs like oxycontin and hydrocodone make it from the factory to the patient, and nowhere else.” And with good riddance; the numbers portray a situation not far from what Schumer has described as a “nationwide epidemic.”
An Upstate New York Poison Control report in 2011 recorded 12,800 cases of prescription drug abuse across the state. Since 2007, the country has seen a 350% increase in the amount of money stolen in prescription pills, totaling somewhere around $184 million in 2009.
And when it comes to crime numbers, the Drug Enforcement Agency recorded 688 pharmacy robberies in the U.S. in 2010, a 79 percent increase in six years time
. So, yeah, one could say things are getting a little out of hand.
The Safe Doses Act will most likely pass in the Senate because, let’s be honest, no politician wants to be labeled as pro-drug-crime. And the bill could not come at a more opportune time.
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting the Village Voice and our advertisers.