Dover Police Department aims to spread word about help with drug addiction

 

DOVER — In rare and fleeting moments of clarity, opioid addicts realize they need help.

Heading to a police station with their needles and stash doesn’t usually come to mind.

Dover Police aim to change that mentality as soon as possible.

In his annual report presentation to City Council last month, Dover Police Chief Marvin Mailey publicly reported his department’s intention to raise awareness of the ANGEL program’s availability.

ANGEL’s mission is to combat the crisis through professional treatment referrals instead of criminal incarceration and the ensuing likelihood of re-offending upon release from custody.

Addicts choosing to take part in ANGEL can arrive at the police department and be paired with an advocate to immediately enter a Connections Community Support Programs treatment plan.

The law enforcement agency has partnered with the ANGEL Program since July 2016, but seen minimal results, however.

Just five addicts have taken the monumental step of walking through Dover PD’s doors while seeking a drug treatment program with no questions asked in almost two years. Two remain in treatment and three have completed the process.

The few arrivals weren’t investigated, arrested or charged for their drug abuse. Addicts choosing to take part were paired with an advocate and immediately entered into a treatment plan with the Connections Community Support Programs.

The revived aim is to take a proactive approach through community outreach, including informational booths at events, posting signs at churches and public areas, and working with clergy and interested stakeholders. Not only do police want to reach addicts, but their family member who could guide them through the doors.

Information is available online at doverpolice.org/dover-police-angel-program/.

Dover PD met with Connections in March to discuss the best path forward when it comes to attracting addicts needing help.

“We currently have as much capacity as police can send us,” Connections Chief Operating Officer Chris Devaney said Friday.

Also involved are the Vines Community Project led by Coalition Coordinator the Rev. Carol E. Harris and City Councilman David Anderson. The email address for Vines is vinescommunityproject@gmail.com. The Facebook page is @vinescommunityproject.

Mr. Anderson said a major push to promote ANGEL is coming in May.

“We’re going to start right where the people are — in the streets,” he said. “We need to encourage people to learn more about it and unfortunately the ones who need it aren’t reading the papers and going online to research it.”

Also, Mr. Anderson said, “Police aren’t going after the users, but the dealers, and the best way to hurt the dealers’ ability to distribute drugs is to cut off the demand. Getting more people into treatment cuts down on the number of users out there needing dealers, which is a huge positive step in fighting the crisis that we’re currently in.”

Next OD coming

While the city hasn’t seen an overdose in the last couple weeks, Chief Mailey said “it’s just a matter of time because people are still ingesting heroin.”

According to the chief, 90 to 95 percent of addiction issues are heroin and painkiller fentanyl-related.

“The main problem is heroin, with a bit of fentanyl too” he said. “It’s so physically and mentally addicting it’s hard to kick.”

Chief Mailey thinks the structure is in place to make the ANGEL program work, since it’s been “copied to the letter” from the highly successful Gloucester, Massachusetts Police Department’s Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative program that debuted in 2015.

Connections has established informal agreements with police agencies in Harrington, Ocean View, Millsboro, Middletown and Seaford to consider treatment referral options to addicts they encounter.

As a former New Castle County Police Department officer, Connections Director of Criminal Justice and Community Partnerships Amy M. Kevis believes partnering with law enforcement and establishing a like mindset is crucial.

“My definition of success is finding a law enforcement organization willing to have a conversation and consider taking an alternative approach when it comes to helping their community,” she said.

For Mr. Devaney, “success is based on one person. If we’ve even had a few people take part and diverted them from death or incarceration or anything that keeps them in the grip of addiction, then that’s still one person who has been impacted in a significantly positive way that’s life changing or perhaps life saving.”

Withdrawal assistance

Connections also has a Withdrawal Management Center at 9 E. Street in Harrington that it describes as a “medically monitored, safe and secure facility that serves as a gateway to recovery for Kent and Sussex County residents, helping people withdrawal from opioids, alcohol and benzodiazepines. The center connects people to ongoing treatment and to housing, employment and other services.

“The center provides immediate and 24/7 access to medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. Getting started on methadone or buprenorphine means there is no need to experience sickness from opioid withdrawal.”

About ANGEL program

Here is some Dover Police-provided information about the ANGEL program. More is available online at doverpolice.org/dover-police-angel-program/.

POLICY:

Any person who enters the police station and requests help with their addiction to opiates will be immediately screened into the ANGEL program. If such a person who has requested help with their addiction is in possession of drugs or their drug equipment (needles, etc.), they will not be charged. Any officers having contact with anyone entering the Dover Police Department and requesting help with their addiction will be professional, compassionate and understanding at all times. The officer will immediately notify the on-duty supervisor that a potential ANGEL intake is requesting help with their addiction.

(The program is open to the public, regardless of his or her residency. Police said, “Whether you’re from Dover, Delaware or California, we don’t turn anyone away.”)

EXCEPTIONS:

A person seeking help with their addiction to opiates may be deemed INELIGIBLE to participate in the Dover Police Department Volunteer ANGEL Program if:

•The subject has an outstanding arrest warrant for a serious offense (i.e. felony level offense or violent crime)

•The subject has three or more drug-related convictions on their criminal record if at least one of those convictions from a possession with intent to distribute or trafficking or drug violation in a school zone or be in possession of trafficking weight.

•The officer or on-duty supervisor expresses the reasonable belief that the ANGEL or officer could be seriously harmed by the subject

•The subject is under age 18 and does not have parent or guardian consent

•If the subject presents with any signs or symptoms of withdrawal or any other clear medical conditions, or simply requests at the time of intake, he or she will be immediately transported to Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital in Dover or Connections may be able to handle some subjects that are suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

MORE ABOUT THE ANGEL PROGRAM:

If an addict comes into the Dover Police Department and asks for help, an officer will work with the person and aid them in getting the help they need. Officers will contact Connections where they will be paired with an “ANGEL” who will help guide them through the process. We have partnered with Connections Community Support Programs to ensure that our patients receive the care and treatment they deserve — not in days or weeks, but immediately. With an outpatient care center right here in Dover and a 28-bed detox facility just a short drive away, we are confident our partnership can help stop addiction issues in our area.

If you have drugs or drug paraphernalia on you, we will dispose of it for you. You will not be arrested. You will not be charged with a crime. You will not be jailed. All you have to do is come to the police station and ask for help. We are here to do just that.

When you come in, an officer will assist you until an ANGEL from Connections arrives. During this time, you will be asked to complete some documents, including a confidentiality agreement, participant intake form, patient program agreement, volunteer liability release form, and Dover PD ANGEL guidelines.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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