Gloucester Police Department Unveils Details for Drug Recovery Initiative

Gloucester Police Department Press Release — Republished

Gloucester Police Department
Leonard Campanello, Chief of Police
197 Main St.
Gloucester , MA 01930

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 617-993-0003

Details Released for Gloucester Drug Addiction Recovery Initiative

17 Treatment Centers in 11 States to Partner with Gloucester

Police Discretion Used to Usher Addicts into Recovery, not Holding Cells

GLOUCESTER — Police Chief Leonard Campanello today unveiled detailed plans for The Gloucester Police Department Volunteer ANGEL Program (“The Gloucester Initiative”), a revolutionary shift in municipal policing policy aimed at ushering heroin and opiate addicts into recovery and treatment, rather than jail cells and courtrooms.

The policy has been finalized and will go into effect on Monday, June 1.

“Gloucester is changing the conversation. Police officers exist to help people. Drug addiction is a disease, and drug addicts need help. We, the members of the Gloucester Police Department, are choosing to take direct action,” Chief Campanello said. “The stigma associated with heroin and opiate addiction is over. Police officers are here to help you, not judge you.”

The Gloucester Initiative is the product of a diligent policy-making and legal process involving the Gloucester Police Department, the City of Gloucester and the Office of Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, partner law enforcement agencies, and legal counsel for the City of Gloucester.

Click here to view the official Gloucester Police policy document.

1. Expedited Recovery 

Under the Program: “Any person who enters the police station and is requesting help with their addiction to opiates will be immediately screened into the ANGEL program and transported to the Addison Gilbert Hospital (AGH). If such a person who has requested help with their addiction is in possession of drugs or their drug equipment (needles, etc.) while requesting help, the items will be seized and marked for destruction, but the person will not be charged. Any officers having contact with anyone entering the Gloucester Police Department and requesting help with their addiction will be professional, compassionate and understanding at all times. The officer will immediately notify the Watch Commander that a patient is requesting help with their addiction.”

The patient will be required to complete an intake form and sign an agreement with the police department.

An officer shall be assigned to transport the patient to Addison Gilbert Hospital. The Watch Commander will reference a list of volunteer ANGELS to respond and relieve the officer at AGH. More than two-dozen volunteers have already signed up for the initiative.

Then the police department’s role ends, and treatment begins.

The Gloucester Police Department has partnered with Addison Gilbert Hospital and Lahey Behavioral Health Services to fast track initiative participants, and there will be plenty of assistance. The Gloucester Police Department has secured agreements with 16 other treatment centers and programs in 11 states, to handle special cases and overflow from the Gloucester Initiative and to provide additional resources.

In Massachusetts, Gloucester has been contacted by the Grace Center in Gloucester, F8 Foundation in Westborough, the Recovering Youth Coalition based on Cape Cod, and Wicked Sober of Boston. Elsewhere, the Gloucester Police Department has received offers of assistance from:

Patients will also have access to the Triggr Health App to assist them during their recovery.

2. Narcan Availability

Nasal Narcan is now available at pharmacies without a prescription.

The Gloucester Police Department has finalized an agreement with Conley’s Drug Store and has received offers of support from CVS and Walgreens that will allow anyone access to the potentially lifesaving drug at little or no cost, regardless of their insurance.

The Police Department will pay the cost of Nasal Narcan for those without insurance by using money seized from drug dealers.

Narcan is not a long-term solution, but it has the potential to save the life of an addict experiencing an overdose.

“We cannot help a dead person,” Chief Campanello said. “The goal is to never need to use Narcan again, but right now it’s there to give addicts and their families another chance to come into treatment. It is a stopgap while we work to remove the stigma and barriers to entry.”

3. Police Discretion and Exceptions

The Gloucester Police Department Volunteer ANGEL Program was created in conjunction with legal counsel. One of the cornerstones of policing is discretion, which means that police officers can choose not to arrest someone even if the person has broken the law. This same concept applies to issuing speeding tickets, drug take-back programs, and gun buyback events.

“We are not trying to reinvent the wheel. Police officers already have the time-honored discretion to refer addicts to treatment or to simply not arrest them,” Chief Campanello said. “This initiative ups the ante by increasing the recovery resources available and making it much easier for officers to put people in treatment — and to directly make a difference in their lives.”

There are some exceptions to the initiative, including if:

If an officer makes initial contact with an addict on the streets or in the community, the program authorizes the use of police discretion to refer the subject to the ANGEL Program.

Support Grows

Essex County Sheriff Frank G. Cousins Jr. and Veterans Affairs Police Chief Shawn Kelley of Bedford had meetings with Chief Campanello this week, and both leaders expressed support for the Gloucester Initiative.

“Here at the Sheriffs office, we are committed to exploring the promising idea of having a pre-trial detox facility here at our Middleton facility,” Sheriff Cousins said. “Chief Campanello has put forward a program that has the potential to save and improve lives not just in Gloucester but elsewhere. We will offer whatever assistance and resources we can to this initiative to help people shake the grip of heroin and opioid addiction.”

Gloucester and Veterans Affairs Police have agreed to meet weekly and conduct outreach in the community to identify homeless and drug addicted veterans and help them off the streets and/or into treatment.

“As we forge ahead establishing a mutually supportive relationship, we are especially interested in your program to address the opiate crisis facing numerous communities and our veteran population,” Chief Kelley wrote in a letter to Chief Campanello after their meeting. “The Bedford VA specializes in substance abuse treatment and I feel that working together we can reach out to at risk Gloucester veterans and provide them information on treatment options available to them as veterans.”

These law enforcement partners join 2.2 million Facebook members, both Massachusetts Senators, U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, State Senator Bruce Tarr, State Reps. Donald Wong and Ann-Margaret Ferrante, the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs Association, and the Essex County Police Chiefs Association in supporting the efforts of the Gloucester Initiative.

Chief Campanello proposed his new drug policy on May 5. The Gloucester Initiative gives addicts immediate help with detox and recovery without the threat and stigma of arrest. It also seeks to put nasal naloxone in the hands of as many addicts, families, and caregivers as possible to prevent overdose death. Additionally, the plan calls for a portion of federal criminal seizure money to be earmarked for addiction recovery efforts.

The initiative began with a citywide forum and a Facebook post by the Chief, which has now reached nearly 2.2 million people. Click here for more information on the post,