The mayor of Ithaca, New York, has proposed a supervised injection facility for heroin addicts in his community, CBS 2 New York is reporting. The facility, which would feature nurse supervision, would provide users with a “safe place” to shoot up without fear of arrest or prosecution.

“It’s providing a safe place where they won’t overdose, where they can get treatment,” Mayor Svante Myrick said. “We’re not going to encourage more people to use, it’s just going to save lives and give them an opportunity.”

The proposal comes as New York officials are grappling with a “heroin epidemic.” According to CBS 2 New York, in 2003, only 186 people overdosed on the drug in New York state. By 2012, that number had risen to 914.

“This part of the plan is about keeping people alive, helping them get treatment, helping them get better, but in the meantime making sure that they live long enough to get that treatment,” Myrick said. “Once you die from an overdose there’s no opportunity to get better, no opportunity to get treatment.”

The facility would also provide clean needles and access to addiction recovery programs. Myrick hopes he can bypass the sate legislature, which could block the proposal, by going through the New York Health Department and having widespread heroin use classified as a state health crisis.

(Source: CBS 2 New York)