CHATHAM — Village Police Chief Peter Volkmann, now also Hudson’s police commissioner, joined U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-19, at President Donald Trump’s third State of the Union Address on Tuesday.
“I am hoping to hear bipartisan solutions from the president tonight,” Delgado said Tuesday. “Addressing the opioid crisis transcends politics — we need to work with all levels of government on both sides of the aisle to treat those living with addiction as well as to tackle the root causes of the opioid crisis. This is a priority in upstate New York and I’m ready and willing to work with anyone on solutions that save lives. We need to attack this epidemic from all angles — both the symptoms and the causes that perpetuate it.”
Delgado and Volkmann have been collaborating to bring awareness to the opioid epidemic in upstate New York.
“I’m honored to join Rep. Delgado at the State of the Union on Tuesday,” Volkmann said. “Thew opioid epidemic is hurting our upstate communities, and we need coordinated action at a local and national level. I’m grateful for the work that Rep. Delgado has done already to support our community and I look forward to working closely with him as we continue our efforts.”
Volkmann was included in Delgado’s panel discussion with medical professionals, non-profit organizations, law enforcement and those recovering from addiction throughout the 19th District last fall in Glasco. Delgado wanted to approach the issue with support for those living with addiction through medication-assisted treatment and destigmatizing addiction with more focus on drug courts than incarceration.
Volkmann received the 2018 Police Assisted and Recovery Initiative Leadership Award for his development and work with the Chatham Cares 4 U Initiative through the Chatham Police Department, which provides help arranging treatment and transportation for opioid addiction to anyone who requests it instead of arresting them.
“Chatham Police Chief Peter Volkmann is working on the front lines and doing life-saving work to respond to overdoses, connect individuals with treatment facilities, and hear from patients about living in recovery from the disease that is addiction,” Delgado said. “His innovative program in Columbia County is a model for the country when it comes to opioid treatment and recovery. We know it will take working at all levels of government to end the opioid epidemic, and that’s why I’m lucky to have Chief Volkmann as a partner in these efforts. I’m pleased he [joined] me for the State of the Union as we send a powerful message that this crisis demands urgent action.”
Delgado is a member of the Freshman Working Group on Addiction and supported the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act (H.R. 2482) that would lift restrictions for health care providers to prescribe buprenorphine, a treatment that helps those suffering with a substance-use disorder. Currently, the process to apply for the DEA waiver to prescribe it to treat addiction is complex.
Delgado also introduced the Save Lives Act (H.R. 5196) on November 20, 2019, seeking to ban opioid drug manufacturers’ corporate PACs from donating to political campaigns.
“Addressing the opioid crisis must also include rooting out the corrupting influences that perpetuate it. The opioid crisis is deeply prevalent in New York, especially in our rural communities, and yet pharmaceutical companies and special interests continue to have free rein to advance their agenda by lining the pockets of lawmakers in Washington,” Delgado said. “The Save Lives Act will take important steps to limit the influence of opioid manufacturers and make sure our representatives work for the people they serve, not special interests.”
This is Delgado’s second State of the Union Address. In 2019 Delgado invited Hoosick Falls resident Michael Hickey, who discovered elevated levels of PFOA chemicals in the local water supply following his father’s death from cancer.
Trump did not include the opioid epidemic in the talking points a senior White House official shared earlier this week. The State of the Union Address begins at 9 p.m. EST.
Abby Hoover is a reporter at the Register-Star. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (518) 828-1616 ext. 2500.