For Immediate Release
Friday, Feb. 19, 2016
Contact: John Guilfoil
Groton, Conn. Police Departments Partner with P.A.A.R.I. to Further Addiction Recovery Initiative
Area Chiefs and Law Enforcement Officials Partner for Regional Community Enforcement Program to Address Opioid Epidemic
GROTON, C.T. — Town Police Chief Louis Fusaro Jr. and City Police Chief Thomas Davoren are pleased to announce that the Groton Police Departments have joined the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.) to expand the Groton Addiction Assistance Initiative.
Groton, along with other communities in southeastern Connecticut, has been impacted by the increased use of heroin and other opioids over the last several years. In 2015, the town had 18 reported overdoses, four of which were fatal.
After meeting with the Gloucester Police Department in the fall, Groton Town Police Chief Fusaro and Groton City Police Chief Davoren chose to create an addiction recovery program to help place residents struggling with addiction into treatment. They modeled their program — that began right before the New Year — after the Gloucester Angel Initiative, which allows those who suffer from addiction to turn in their drug supply and paraphernalia to the Gloucester Police Department without the fear of arrest. Police then immediately place participants into a treatment center to recover.
“We are very pleased to be associated with P.A.A.R.I. and our partner law enforcement agencies,” Chief Fusaro said. “Groton will benefit from the collective knowledge and best practices of other departments with similar programs.”
Groton Police have also partnered with a local group, Community Speaks Out, to help place residents into treatment. Since officers began directing those in need to the organization this winter, 15 people have been put into a recovery program.
“This new and innovative approach deals with addiction in a proactive and preventative way that will have a positive impact on our community,” Chief Fusaro said. “In fact, we have already begun to see the benefit with lives and families being saved through the work of so many dedicated community leaders who have also committed themselves to the success of this program. I can’t thank Joe and Tammy de la Cruz of A Community Speaks Out enough for their leadership in Groton and for their tireless work in helping all of those affected by opioid addiction.”
Additionally, on Feb. 3, police chiefs from Groton Town, Groton City, Waterford, Norwich, Ledyard and New London, along with representatives from East Lyme, Montville and the Connecticut State Police, joined together to form the Regional Community Enforcement program. In the last three weeks, 29 people have been admitted to hospitals in Southeastern Connecticut for opioid overdoses.
Members will allot additional personnel and resources to tackle the supply side of the opioid epidemic and work with the statewide Narcotics Task Force to enhance enforcement efforts. At the same time, by following the Groton Addiction Assistance Initiative, police will focus on getting people the help they need to recover from their addiction. Representatives from the New London County State’s Attorney’s Office are working with the departments on this initiative.
“We have to do more on both the supply side and demand side to address the opioid epidemic in our communities,” Chief Davoren said. “We have seen an alarming amount of overdoses recently and are hopeful that through this regional partnership, along with assistance from P.A.A.R.I., we will be able to remove drug dealers from our streets while placing residents into treatment programs to recover from their addiction.”
Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello and John Rosenthal, co-founders of P.A.A.R.I., extend a warm welcome to the Groton Town and Groton City Police Departments. They offer their assistance to Chief Fusaro and Chief Davoren to help move their addiction recovery initiatives forward.
The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.) was launched to support police departments around the nation as they work to help those suffering from the disease of addiction. The United States faces a nationwide heroin and opioid epidemic, with more people now dying from overdoses than from car accidents in this country. Rather than arrest our way out of the problem of drug addiction, P.A.A.R.I. committed police departments:
• Encourage opioid drug users to seek recovery
• Help distribute life saving opioid blocking drugs to prevent and treat overdoses
• Connect addicts with treatment programs and facilities
• Provide resources to other police departments and communities that want to do more to fight the opioid addiction epidemic
P.A.A.R.I. was created by Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello and John Rosenthal to bridge the gap between the police department and opioid addicts seeking recovery.