Scarborough police announced a partnership Thursday with The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative to support the community’s Operation HOPE (Heroin – Opiate Prevention Effort).”

On Oct. 1, Scarborough plans to implement the program, which was developed in Gloucester, Mass., by the town’s police chief Leonard Campanello and John Rosenthal. Operation HOPE is designed to place people struggling with addiction into a treatment facility, train police to be better equipped to handle the drug epidemic, and provide resources to the public on how to help loved ones struggling with the disease of addiction.

“Maine is currently experiencing a heroin problem of near epidemic proportions, and with the number of residents seeking treatment growing every year, a new approach needed to be taken to assist our community and save lives,” Scarborough police Chief Robbie Moulton said. “Our partnership with P.A.A.R.I. will positively change the way law enforcement responds to drug addiction through reducing the demand for opioids by treating the disease at its core.”

Operation HOPE will consist of the following elements:

• Law Enforcement Training: Scarborough police officers will receive special training on addiction-related issues, including understanding the perspective of recovering addicts. This will enable officers to better interact with and assist persons suffering from addiction.

• Public Education and Outreach: As officers respond to calls for service and incidents where addiction or substance abuse is known or suspected, police will provide an Operation HOPE flyer to the individual or family members and offer support and assistance for getting help. In addition, the Scarborough Police Department will use its social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to help publicize the services available under Operation HOPE.

• Drug Turn-In: Any person who enters the Scarborough Police Department and requests help under Operation HOPE will be allowed to voluntarily turn in heroin, opioids, needles and drug paraphernalia – without fear of arrest or charges.

• Treatment and Assistance: Those interested in the Operation HOPE will initially be screened by a police officer to determine eligibility for participation in a treatment program. If they are found to meet program eligibility requirements, they will be assigned an Operation HOPE “Angel” who will walk them through the process toward detox and recovery, including accelerated placement in a P.A.A.R.I. affiliated rehabilitation and treatment program whenever possible. In instances in which a person is found ineligible to participate in such a program, alternative support and assistance will be offered.

• Treatment Follow-Up: Participants who have completed a rehabilitation program through Operation HOPE can continue to promote their recovery by utilizing the support services provided by Portland Recovery Community Center, which will also conduct the department’s training for police officers and the initial group of “Angels.”

“We are always proud and willing to support our counterparts in other states who are looking to change the way drug addiction is handled in their community,” Gloucester, Mass., police Chief Leonard Campanello said. “Operation HOPE is directly aligned with the premise of The Gloucester Initiative, and we’re confident Scarborough police will able to assist their residents the same we have in our North Shore city.”

“Scarborough, Maine, like P.A.A.R.I. partner police departments recognizes the importance of education, awareness and most of all treatment to address addiction,” added John Rosenthal, who helped co-found the initiative with Campanello. “P.A.A.R.I. will do all it can to move Operation HOPE forward and assist Maine residents in getting the help they need.”

P.A.A.R.I. was started to support local police departments as they work with opioid addicts. It was created by Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello and John Rosenthal to bridge the gap between the police department and opioid addicts seeking recovery.

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 people suffering with opioid addiction with treatment programs and facilities.

• Provide resources to other police departments and communities that want to do more to fight the opioid addiction epidemic.

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