Jeffersontown Police Department helps addicts get into treatment instead of jail
The Angel Program officially starts Aug. 1 at the Jeffersontown Police Department.
JEFFERSONTOWN, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Jeffersontown Police Department was instrumental in getting the newly-passed Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) sent to President Barack Obama’s desk Wednesday night.
But the police department did not stop there, as it's about to launch a new program to get addicts into treatment instead of jail.
It’s called the Angel Program, and anyone who walks into the Jeffersontown Police Department giving up their drugs and requesting help will be met with compassion and empathy.
“In Jefferson County as a whole, we're experiencing about one overdose death a day,” said Sgt. Brittney Garrett with the Jeffersontown Police Department.
Just like most communities throughout the country, Jeffersontown has been affected by the heroin epidemic. Sgt. Garrett spent the first part of her career on patrol seeing the effects of drugs and alcohol.
“(We're) seeing people go through addiction, but we always see them in the worst part of their addiction,” she said.
Now she wants to help. Sgt. Garrett recently returned from Washington, D.C., as part of the Police Assisted Recovery Initiative. While CARA passed Wednesday, she was hoping for more funding.
“People are dying on both sides of the aisle here. It's a bipartisan issue going forward, and we're hoping that we can get our congressmen and women and senators behind the funding that we need moving forward,” Sgt. Garrett said.
Now she's back home in Jeffersontown having a community conversation on heroin and educating people on the Angel Program. It's a way for addicts to be connected to resources and get into treatment by simply walking into the police department.
“We want people who want help to get help,” Sgt. Garrett said.
“If they choose to come through that door to ask for help, we're going to help them,” Jeffersontown Police Chief Ken Hatmaker said.
The concept itself sounds revolutionary, but will it be effective here?
“It's going to take that first person having the courage to know that they're going to come into a compassionate and empathetic environment, and we're going to get them into treatment. This is the first step in reducing the stigma against addiction that our communities have, and what better place to start than in law enforcement,” Sgt. Garrett said.
The Jeffersontown Police Department is the first in Kentucky to initiate The Angel Program. It started in Gloucester, Mass., in June of 2015. After the first year, the police department there helped 450 people get into treatment and had a 30 percent reduction in property crime.
Jeffersontown’s Angel Program officially starts Aug. 1, 2016.
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