Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell says he has found 53 residents in the county have died as a result of drug overdoses since January.

After Broome officials were at a loss last month to provide overdose numbers during a news conference about a major drug bust, the District Attorney announced he would launch an initiative to uncover just how big the opioid problem is in Broome.

Cornwell’s office reviewed death certificates, coroner reports and police records.

The DA says he plans to amp up prosecution of drug dealers on manslaughter or other charges in connection with overdose deaths and said the numbers in the report serve as a call to action for the entire community.

The Broome County Executive’s office issued a statement from Public Health Director Sean Brittan that says, in part, quote:

“The Broome County Health Department conducts disease surveillance based upon the data available, which at times can be limited.  A District Attorney can utilize tools, such as subpoena, to obtain a broader source of data.”

Brittan says he can’t comment on Cornwell’s numbers as he does not have access to his sources or methods.

The statement further commends the District Attorney for “his aggressive approach and for looking for unique ways to address <this> community issue” and says further collaboration is welcome.