Gloucester Police To Stop Charging Addicts Who Seek Help

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The Gloucester Police Department says it will no longer arrest drug users who ask officers for help with their addiction.

Under the new policy, which goes into effect in June, anyone who surrenders their drugs at a local police station and asks for help with their addiction will immediately be assessed and provided with information about available services.

Gloucester Police Chief Lenny Campanello says the new approach is a "revolutionary" shift for law enforcement.

"The messaging is supposed to be provocative," Campanello told WBUR's Deborah Becker. "It's time to approach this disease from a different perspective and to listen to people who've been through it and know what they need."

The department is partnering with local medical centers to get people into treatment as fast as possible.

Campanello says he'll also lobby federal officials for help improving access to treatment.

"What we're doing here is provoking conversations, that, it is my great hope, leads to the availability of more beds, more long-term, sustainable treatment," he said.

The city is also working to ensure that local pharmacies provide the anti-overdose drug Narcan at little to no cost.

Listen to Chief Campanello's full conversation with WBUR's Deborah Becker above. 

This segment aired on May 5, 2015.



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