SOMERSET — Chief George M. McNeil is pleased to announce that the Somerset Police Department has joined the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.) to launch an addiction outreach and recovery program.
Similar to many other communities around the nation, Somerset has been seriously impacted by opioid addiction crisis that has grown dramatically over the last several years. The police department is choosing to make a difference in the community by providing help to those suffering from addiction. This starts with officers encouraging people to come to the police station and seek help without fear of arrest or prosecution, and it includes treating those suffering from addiction with compassion and respect.
The Somerset Police Department will begin its program on March 1 and will be following the Arlington Outreach Initiative model. As a part of the initiative, trained clinicians:
- Reach out to people known to suffer from addiction living in the community
- Support them in developing a plan to facilitate long-term recovery
- Direct them and their loved ones to related services and support groups.
The Arlington Outreach Initiative was created by Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan and is inspired by the Gloucester Police Department ANGEL Initiative, created by Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello.
“We admire what P.A.A.R.I. is all about and what the groups stands for in helping those struggling with addiction,” Chief McNeil said. “It is time to take matters into our own hands and create a program that can help out our residents and get them the help that they need in order to recover and take back their lives.”
In addition, the Somerset Police Department will work to:
- Reduce the stigma associated with addiction, the number of opiate overdoses in the community and the amount of incidents where doctors over prescribe opiates to patients
- Expand access to Nasal Naloxone (Narcan) to train police, those suffering from addiction, and their loved ones on how to administer dosages to reverse the effects of a opioid overdose.
- Add to the number of local addiction treatment options and resources (inpatient and outpatient) for residents
- Increase local access to medication/pharmaceutical assisted treatment for opiate addiction
- Empower and motivate families, by providing data-driven strategies aimed at problem solving, toward successful recoveries
- Offer more community prescription drug take back days and mobilize drug take back assets to senior/public housing neighborhoods.
The department also recently installed a medication disposal box in the lobby of the police station.
Chief Campanello and John Rosenthal, The founders of P.A.A.R.I., are pleased to welcome the Somerset Police Department to P.A.A.R.I. and will work with the department to further their initiative. Chief Ryan, of Arlington, has also reached out to Chief McNeil to offer information and support as the community implements the Arlington model. In making this move, Somerset realizes that there are residents struggling with addiction that are in need of assistance.
The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.) was started to support local police departments as they work with opioid addicts. Rather than arrest our way out of the problem of drug addiction, P.A.A.R.I. committed police departments:
- Encourage opioid drug users to seek recovery.
- Help distribute life saving opioid blocking drugs to prevent and treat overdoses.
- Connect addicts with treatment programs and facilities.
- Provide resources to other police departments and communities that want to do more to fight the opioid addiction epidemic.
P.A.A.R.I. was created by Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello and John Rosenthal to bridge the gap between the police department and the opioid addicts seeking recovery.
As of Feb. 11, 2016, 64 police departments, sheriff’s offices, and other law enforcement agencies in 19 states have joined with P.A.A.R.I. to create and launch their own programs and initiatives aimed at attacking drugs from the demand side rather than just the supply.