Former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton has criticized the city's decision to introduce a drug vending machine on Sunday, stating that it caters to individuals struggling with addiction by providing items such as crack pipes, lip balm, and NARCAN.
“The world has turned upside down,” Bratton said on WABC's “The Cats Roundtable” with host John Catsimatidis.
“Instead of trying to get people away from drugs, we have policies now where we have vending machines to encourage them to stay on drugs. ‘We’re going to make it safer for you to use drugs so you can spend the rest of your life not trying to get off drugs but to stay on drugs.'”
Bratton's remarks were aimed at the recently revealed vending machine in Brownsville, Brooklyn, introduced by health officials under Mayor Eric Adams' administration, the New York Post reported. This machine provides various items targeted at individuals struggling with drug addiction, including drug paraphernalia for smoking purposes, fentanyl test strips to detect potential dangers, and NARCAN to revive individuals experiencing an overdose.
Furthermore, plans are in place to install at least three additional vending machines in other neighborhoods heavily affected by drug-related issues.
“What happens when you stay on drugs? You want the next high. …You graduate from marijuana … to heroin. … That’s the problem with addiction,” Bratton stated. “There’s never enough drugs. There’s never enough high. That’s effectively what we as a government are starting to support.”
“City after city. State after state: this idea that we will sustain your drug habit rather than try to get you off your drug habit,” he continued.
During the recent introduction of the vending machine in Brooklyn, City Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan stood in defense of the machines, stating that they are intended to enhance the safety of New Yorkers.
“Every three hours, we’re losing a New Yorker [to drugs]. And it looks like 2022 is on track to be our highest year ever in overdoses,’’ he said at the time.
“We have a rising tide of fentanyl, and now we have other substances entering our drug supply, which is really putting us behind the eight ball.”
Particularly, Vasan highlighted the growing prevalence of Xylazine, a veterinary drug commonly referred to as “Tranq” or the “zombie drug.” This substance has the potential to induce a catatonic state in users and can lead to severe conditions that result in tissue decay.
However, Bratton remained skeptical of Commissioner Ashwin Vasan's defense. The former prominent law enforcement officer, who had held the position of city police commissioner twice under Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Bill de Blasio, expressed his disagreement. He also criticized the legalization of recreational marijuana in New York, asserting that it has contributed to the growth of the illicit cannabis market and encourages underage individuals to engage in illegal marijuana consumption.
“I was just in Italy for two weeks on vacation … I did not smell marijuana for two weeks … Boom! As soon as you get back to [New York], it hits you in the face,” Bratton explained.
Bratton added that New York officials have allowed the illegal market to spiral out of control.
“They have created a climate where anything goes,” Bratton further exclaimed.
“The only positive about the red cloud we had last week is that we didn’t smell marijuana,” referring to the air pollution in New York caused by the forest fires in Canada.
“Kids now 12, 13, 14, 15 can get ahold of [marijuana]. It’s so readily available. If we’re selling it illegally in 1,200 shops around the city, do you think they care who’s coming in to buy it? They’re not checking for IDs. It’s a cash business. The city has totally lost control over it. The state has lost control over it.”