SCARBOROUGH — Police Chief Robert Moulton told the Scarborough Town Council on Feb. 5 that the department is excited to have received two grants from the state of Maine dealing with substance abuse disorder and domestic violence situations.

The first reimbursement grant of $457,928 would be broken up into several different components regarding substance abuse: funds for current treatment programs, limited-stay sober living environments, a one-year salary of approximately $70,000 for a data analyst to develop a rehabilitation model for other communities, and a pilot program to educate youth about addiction, said Moulton.

The grant will allow the police department to broaden its substance abuse services, he said.

“One of the things we are going to do is open up a little because over time we’ve come to realize that the real villain here is the addiction, the substance abuse disorder,” said Moulton. “It’s a disease, not necessarily any particular substance. Clearly, we started this because heroin was such an issue and people were dying rapidly, but there are many other substances that folks have come in looking for help that we have to this point turned away because we weren’t sure — when we were operating on grants and donations — where we we’d have the money to support.”

Part of the grant will help people who struggle even after seeking help for substance abuse problems, he said.

“One of the issues folks have, many of the people who come to us, literally have just the clothes on their back and it’s great that they get there and get treatment, but they get back home and they’re in that same situation,” said Moulton. “It’s very difficult and very stressful when they come back to try and get reestablished when they have nothing to start with. One of the things we’ve talked a lot about and people in the recovery community and so forth, is the ability to provide a limited amount of time — we certainly don’t want an amount of time to enable others to be greedy — but a limited amount of time for somebody coming back.”

He suggested a 30- or-60-day home that allows a person time to stay safe while seeking employment or an apartment.

Mouton said that he hopes to ultimately create a model for other communities in Maine. By hiring a one-year data analyst, follow-up checks on people who have been helped in the past can happen faster and provide an example for other police departments.

“Lauren, our social services navigator, would like to work with that person to start a program which would allow us to deal with people who may have some minor trouble with the law and before they get into the court system be able to provide some treatment or some assistance if needed,” said Moulton. “Also for our officers, when they identify someone who’s going down that path — maybe they haven’t been arrested yet but it’s very clear that’s the path they’re going. These would be voluntary programs, but we feel that people would take advantage of them.”

Councilor Don Hamill asked if there would be a need for that same position after the year is over, but Moulton said that by then, all the data of previous substance abuse survivors would be assessed.

A little over $82,000 would be used to fund educational programs, said Moulton. Dave Packhem, a Scarborough resident who is interested in abuse education, approached the department in 2019 about a pilot program in five high schools: Scarborough, Bath, Windham, Gorham, and Yarmouth.

“As an example, one of the things we’re talking about doing is having a contest of those five high schools for students to come up with age-appropriate messaging of substance use, maybe a 30-second public service announcement,” he said. “It would not have to be done with any professional, just on an iPhone or whatever, and then they would compete against people from their own school district. The winner would get a cash prize, maybe $1,000, and then those five people would compete for another cash prize. And then the winner of the PSA — there may be more than one — this grant would go towards having this be professionally produced and maybe buying some air time so that could be on some of the local new stations.”

Moulton’s ultimate goal is having an full K-12 grade program in the years to come, he said.

The Town Council suggested that Moulton and Packhem look into other kinds of media outlets, as most younger teenagers and children aren’t as likely to turn on the TV anymore.

The human trafficking and domestic violent grant, totaling $41,590, would provide overtime for officers to provide the necessary services dealing with these issues, he said.

“We fully recognize that these are ambitious goals, but I feel we have a lot of the right people and pieces in place to make a difference in the lives of our residents and neighbors,” Moulton said in an email to the town.

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