After the Police Chief of Gloucester, Massachusetts announced the town will connect people with treatment when they come to the police station with illegal drugs and paraphernalia, instead of arresting them, 56 police departments in 17 states have started similar programs.
An additional 110 police departments are preparing to start programs that emphasize treatment over incarceration, The New York Times reports. Two hundred treatment centers nationwide have agreed to be partners in these programs.
In May 2015, Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello posted on Facebook, “We will walk them through the system toward detox and recovery. We will assign them an ‘angel’ who will be their guide through the process. Not in hours or days, but on the spot.” Since then, Gloucester has developed a national network of centers that are willing to provide treatment beds and take referrals by police, whether or not a person has insurance.
Several local pharmacies have agreed to make the opioid overdose antidote naloxone available at a discount.
Most of the program’s costs are covered by the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, which Chief Campanello founded with Gloucester businessman John E. Rosenthal. The initiative has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. It has also received millions of dollars in in-kind contributions, including placement in treatment centers.
The program has 55 volunteers in recovery or who are familiar with addiction, who listen and offer moral support. Local taxi companies provide free rides to treatment facilities or the airport, if the treatment facility is far away.
Since the program started, 391 people have turned themselves in at Gloucester’s police station. About 40 percent are from the local area. All have been placed in treatment, the article notes.