Saturday, November 07, 2015

the war on drugs only works if people support it


theantimedia |  “If an addict comes into the Gloucester Police Department and asks for help, an officer will take them to the Addison Gilbert Hospital, where they will be paired with a volunteer ‘ANGEL’ who will help guide them through the process. We have partnered with more than a dozen additional treatment centers to ensure that our patients receive the care and treatment they deserve not in days or weeks, but immediately.

“If you have drugs or drug paraphernalia on you, we will dispose of it for you. You will not be arrested. You will not be charged with a crime. You will not be jailed.

“All you have to do is come to the police station and ask for help. We are here to do just that.
Five months since the program launched, Campanello reports positive results: over 260 addicts have been placed in treatment. This summer, shoplifting, breaking and entering, and larceny dropped 23% from the same period last year. “We are seeing real people get the lives back,” he said. “And if we see a reduction in crime and cost savings that is a great bonus.”

Other police officers are following suit. John Rosenthal is the co-founder of Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, a nonprofit that helps police departments around the country adopt programs similar to Gloucester’s. Rosenthal says almost 40 departments in nine states (Connecticut, Ohio, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont) have adopted at least some aspects of the program, and 90 more departments want to get involved.

Though the specifics of the programs vary, they all aim to treat addicts. Police are even participating through Veterans Affairs, as opiate addiction is high among veterans.

The program, which Campanello has funded with money seized during drug arrests, has been well-received by departments that implement similar strategies. John Gill, a police officer in Scarborough, Maine, said his local police station saw a “profound” change. He credits Gloucester with the courage to go through with it: “It was the Gloucester ANGEL project which showed us that a relatively modest-sized police agency could have a real impact. And like Gloucester, we couldn’t afford to wait until the perfect solution came along.”