Michigan State Police (MSP) are changing their approach to combat the growing number of heroin and opioid addicts in Michigan. One of the emerging trends across the country is offering addicts treatment instead of incarceration. A program implemented by the Gloucester, Massachusetts Police Department dubbed the “angel program” has revolutionized how police departments handle the rising number of heroin and opioid addicts.1)https://gloucesterpd.com/addicts/ Announced at the end of 2017, MSP is implementing their own Angel Program which is now in effect statewide.2)http://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,4643,7-123-72297_34040_77095-394452–,00.html
MSP’s Angel Program allows an individual suffering from addiction to walk into their local MSP post during regular business hours and seek assistance. The program gets its name from the community-member volunteers, or “angels”, who supports the individual through the program. If accepted into the program, the individual seeking help receives a substance abuse assessment and personalized treatment placement.3)http://www.michigan.gov/documents/msp/Angel_Program_brochure_538735_7.pdf They are not arrested. The program is voluntary, but it offers addicts a structured way to get treatment and avoid incarceration.
Other local police departments have implemented similar programs to this end. Recently, Troy Police Department has announced its participation in the Hope Not Handcuffs program.4)https://www.miheadlines.com/2018/02/13/troy-police-department-launches-hope-not-handcuffs/ Hope Not Handcuffs is an initiative started by Families Against Narcotics (FAN). Like similar angel programs, FAN aims at finding a solution to the opioid epidemic in Michigan by bringing law enforcement and community groups together. Hope Not Handcuffs is part of that solution.
Today, anyone seeking help for drug or alcohol addiction can come to the Troy Police Department 24/7. The individual will be put in contact with an Angel volunteer who will tailor a treatment plan to fit their needs. FAN operates 20 chapters across Michigan and 1 in North Carolina which supports the Hope Not Handcuffs program. Since February 2017, nearly one thousand individuals have participated in the program.5)http://www.familiesagainstnarcotics.org/hopenothandcuffs
At the recent Opioid Epidemic Conference at WMU Cooley Law School in Lansing last month, Judge Linda Davis of the 41B District Court advocated for the Hope Not Handcuffs program. Speaking at the conference, Judge Davis explained addicts often only have a short window of opportunity to seek help. A heroin or opioid addict can’t wait weeks or months to placed in a treatment center, or else they risk a change of mind, relapse or overdose. This is the strength of the Hope Not Handcuffs and other angel programs which rely on volunteers to meet with an individual seeking help immediately, so the recovery process can start. For more information visit http://www.familiesagainstnarcotics.org/.
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