SCARBOROUGH — The Scarborough Police Department is set to bring on a full-time AmeriCorps VISTA member to increase the department’s addiction and recovery program capacity thanks ot the receipt an in-kind grant from the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.).

This year, P.A.A.R.I has been awarded a $1.16 million grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency for volunteering and service, to grow the program from 17 full-time equivalents to 40 members for its 2020-2021 session. Of the new positions, 29 will be based in the awarded law enforcement sites in eight states to help build, strengthen and sustain police-led programs to reduce and prevent overdose deaths and help more people with opioid use disorder get into treatment and recovery.

The grant also funds the expansion of P.A.A.R.I.’s National Support Team and will include 11 full-time VISTSA members based in seven regions and out of P.A.A.R.I.’s office based in Plymouth, Massachusetts. P.A.A.R.I. is also launching a National Police Outreach Team with seven of the regional Police Outreach VISTA members to be spread across the country to help recruit and train new law enforcement partners.

Scarborough Police Department has been selected as a host site for the 2020-2021 program, which represents an in-kind grant worth more than $50,000.

“Our Department is diligently committed to staying connected to our local community to support those citizens in needs,” said Lauren Dembski-Martin, Social Services navigator of Scarborough Police Department. “Our Operation HOPE program will be expanding its services beyond specifically opiate substance use, allowing a greater number of individuals the hope to seek recovery and treatment. In addition, the department will be initiating a LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) Program utilized to divert individuals to a community-based harm reduction intervention for law enforcement involvement driven by unmet behavioral health needs.”

“The opportunity for this P.A.A.R.I. position allows for additional collaborative support in both of these programs that help to address the unprecedented impact mental health and substance use can have upon an individual,” Dembski-Martin said.

“During these challenging times, P.A.A.R.I.’s mission is more relevant and critical than ever, and this revolutionary program will add significant capacity to our law enforcement partners as they address their community’s needs,” Allie Hunter, executive director of P.A.A.R.I, said. “Since our Recovery Corps program launched in 2017, we have seen tremendous results, and we are thrilled to have Scarborough Police Department serve as a host site for the 2020-2021 program year.”

P.A.A.R.I. launched the Recovery Corps Program in partnership with AmeriCorps in fall 2017 in Massachusetts. Since then, the program has expanded to several states nationwide. The program embeds AmeriCorps VISTA members in police departments and law enforcement agencies to address the opioid epidemic and support police-led programs.

P.A.A.R.I. is now accepting applications for 38 full-time positions for the 2020-2021 program year, including the position at Scarborough Police Department, with start dates in August and November 2020. Individuals with lived experience with addiction, including those who are personally in recovery, are encouraged to apply. Details, including a link to apply for each position, can be found at paariusa/org/recoverycorps

The Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative is a nonprofit organization with a mission to help law enforcement agencies nationwide create non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery, according to a press release. Founded alongside the groundbreaking Gloucester, Massachusetts, the Police Department Angel Initiative in June 2015, P.A.A.R.I. The initiative has been a driving force behind this rapidly expanding community policing movement. It provides technical assistance, coaching, grants, and other capacity-building resources to nearly 600 police departments in 35 states, and currently workw with more than 130 law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts alone. P.A.A.R.I. and law enforcement partners are working towards a collective vision where non-arrest diversion programs become a standard policing practice across the country, thereby reducing overdose deaths, expanding access to treatment, improving public safety, reducing crime, diverting people away from the criminal justice system, and increasing trust between law enforcement and their communities. Its programs and partners have saved thousands of lives, changed police culture, reshaped the national conversation about the opioid epidemic and have placed over 25,000 people into treatment since its founding in June 2015. Learn more at paariusa.org.

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