LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The city of Jeffersontown and its police department are changing the approach to fighting crime, trying to make fewer arrests to deal with a growing heroin problem.

It is part of a plan to help heroin users get clean. They can actually report to the Jeffersontown Police Department without the fear of being arrested and taken to jail.

"I've been arrested quite a few times," said Jimmy Charles, who is a recovering heroin addict.

Charles, 21, started using heroin when he was just a juvenile, but it has led to a criminal record that will follow him for the rest of his life.

"I've got a trafficking record for heroin, I've got possessions - multiple possessions, theft charge," he said.

These days, Charles is in a recovery program at The Healing Place.

"In order to help the person that is addicted, we have to save them one at a time," Jeffersontown Mayor Bill Dieruf said.

It is a very unlikely connection, but the Jeffersontown Police Department is now committed to helping heroin addicts.

"For those who are brave enough and courageous enough to reach out to us for help with an addiction, we are going to take you in our arms and help you," Police Chief Ken Hatmaker said.

Chief Hatmaker has a long history of helping Jeffersontown and the people who live there. He and the Mayor hope that will help make drug addicts feel comfortable enough to go to police for help.

"Anybody that walks in this station and needs help, we are going to help them," Mayor Dieruf said.

On Monday, Jeffersontown city officials announced the police department had joined the Angel program. It is a program aimed at helping addicts get treatment and reducing property crime.

"There has been a 33 percent reduction in property crime where this program was implemented," Chief Hatmaker said.

Chief Hatmaker said what they are doing is modeled after a program in Gloucester, Mass., a city comparable to Jeffersontown in size.

"If I'm a resident, I'm a taxpayer, and there's a 33 percent reduction in crime in my neighborhood, I'm all for that," Hatmaker said. 

The chief also said this does not mean the department will be soft on crime. In fact, he has a message for drug dealers.

"We are not only going to take your drugs and your money and your cars and your homes and your freedom, we are also going to take the thing that starts all of this, we are going to take the folks that want that."

Charles has several months of sobriety under his belt, but he also still has the criminal record. Charles believes the Angel program could have helped him.

"I wouldn't have went through what I've been through." 

The plan is for the program to start on Aug. 1.

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