Bethpage forum tackles pharmacy securityBy ROBERT BRODSKY
February 8, 2012
Drug treatment experts and law enforcement officials gathered Tuesday at a summit and called for a coordinated approach to combating prescription drug abuse across Long Island.
"We will end this terrible trend that has led to so many tragedies," Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano told more than 100 people at a prescription drug summit at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage.
The forum was sponsored by Nassau's Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse Prevention Task Force and InfraGard, a national nonprofit that serves as a link between businesses and the FBI. Participants focused on a broad approach to prevention and deterrence -- including education, treatment, safeguarding pharmacies and prosecuting pill-pushing doctors.
The event came less than six weeks after an armed gunman robbed a Seaford pharmacy, sparking a melee that left a federal agent dead.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said prescription drug abuse can be attacked with a key homeland security principle: multiple layers of defense. "There will be no magic answer, but if we can just take incremental steps . . . we can get this under control and stop it before it destroys our community," said King, House Homeland Security Committee chairman.
"We can't arrest our way out of this problem," said Steven Skrynecki, chief of department for Nassau police.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent John Capano was shot in a moment of confusion on New Year's Eve by a retired Nassau police lieutenant as Capano wrestled with James McGoey, who had just robbed Charlie's Family Pharmacy of prescription drugs. The shooting came after David Laffer murdered four people at a drugstore in Medford on Father's Day last year while stealing painkillers.
Law enforcement officials cited more than 200 pharmacy robberies nationwide in 2011 and nearly 7,000 such cases since 2004. Statewide, robberies of pharmacies for controlled substances rose to 30 in 2010 from four in 2006, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. While local data aren't readily available, Newsday last year reported on nine pharmacy robberies and one attempted pharmacy robbery in Nassau and Suffolk.
Jordan Fogel, who owns Linden Care pharmacy in Syosset, said he uses extensive video surveillance and an armed guard and verifies prescriptions with physicians.
"Someone has to be accountable for what's going on," he said.
Joanne Hoffman-Beechko, president of the Long Island Pharmacists Society, endorsed more education and awareness for pharmacists. "I don't want to be the enforcer," she said. "That should not be our job."
Capano's sister and nephew, and Charles Laquidara, owner of the Seaford pharmacy, also attended. All declined to comment.