Massachusetts Police Chiefs, Elected Officials and Addiction Recovery Partners Speak Out In Support of Good Samaritan Bill

Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante
Massachusetts State House
Room 26
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617-722-2080

For Immediate Release

Monday, March 7, 2016

Media Contact: John Guilfoil (JGPR/Police)
Phone: 617-993-0003

Media Contact: Alex Booker (Ferrante)
Phone: 978-395-7660

Massachusetts Police Chiefs, Elected Officials and Addiction Recovery Partners Speak Out In Support of Good Samaritan Bill

BOSTON — Law enforcement and addiction recovery leaders gathered with Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D-Gloucester) today at the Massachusetts State House to pledge their support for a bill aimed at creating new and innovative policing programs that facilitate treatment and recovery options for those in need throughout the state.

Rep. Ferrante has filed an amendment to the 2011 Good Samaritan Law (M.G.L. 94C §34A). The amendment was discussed by the Joint State House and Senate Judiciary Committee earlier today. Beforehand, officials held a press conference to advocate for the importance of the bill.

“Today you have a very unique opportunity to lend the pen of legislation to the sword of law enforcement — have them come together for a more compassionate, a more logical, a more dignified approach to this disease,” Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello told those in attendance. “How we do that is encompassed in this law…by saying that the police should have the discretion to not charge someone if they come to them for help.”

In addition to encouraging people suffering from addiction to seek help and police departments to take direct action to help people seeking treatment, the amendment would also go a long way toward removing the stigma and shame of addiction by encouraging treatment without the threat of prosecution.

“What this bill does is it attempts to address the institutional stigma that exists around addiction,” Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan said. “Under Chief Campanello’s leadership, we rolled out our program in Arlington shortly after Gloucester. In the first half of calendar ’15, we were experiencing one overdose death per month in Arlington. We implemented our program July 1, 2015. From July 1, of ’15 to early February of ’16, we had one fatal overdose. The data is abundantly clear.”

Rep. Ferrante, who represents Gloucester, has seen, first hand, the tremendous promise of the Gloucester Police Department ANGEL Initiative. Since the start of the ANGEL Initiative last year, 400 people have been placed into treatment, and the City of Gloucester has seen a nearly 1/3 reduction in property crimes most commonly associated with addiction, including break-ins, larcenies, and car breaks.

As of today, 27 police departments in the state have implemented a program similar to the Gloucester ANGEL Initiative.

“Massachusetts will become the model for the nation in addressing this chronic illness called opioid addiction,” said John Rosenthal, Chairman of the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative.

Those in attendance included: