Brattleboro, Vermont Police Chief Michael Fitzgerald was featured in the Brattleboro Commons newspaper for his ongoing commitment to working with his community to overcome the opioid epidemic, including his work on drug and alcohol prevention initiatives.
The article highlights Chief Fitzgerald earning one of six “Prevention Champion” awards from the organization Prevention Works! VT at the Vermont Statehouse on Feb. 22.
The Brattleboro Police Department is one of PAARI’s newest law enforcement partners and Chief Fitzgerald is quoted at length in the article discussing the need for a revamped approach to drug use:
“In some areas, enforcement isn’t the most appropriate action,” he said. “We need to change the culture away from 100 percent law enforcement, away from this warrior mentality, toward what we can do to help good people, and not just arrest bad people.”
When asked why he supported these changes, which go against the grain of most aspects of law enforcement, Fitzgerald said, “we were dealing with the same people again and again, doing the same thing. The only time we wouldn’t deal with them was when they were incarcerated. It’s a waste of resources, and you’re not fixing the problem.”
“It’s the definition of insanity, and it was not working,” Fitzgerald said. “Let’s stop it before it starts is the most forward thinking.”
“We find that a lot people suffering from mental health illness or drug addiction, once you sit down and listen to their stories, you get a whole different perspective,” Fitzgerald said. “You find out they were blue-collar, white-collar, a high school drop out, a Ph.D, everything in-between. You find out they’re not a bad person, they’re just in a bad situation.”
“And, I personally believe that when an individual asks for help, that is a sign of strength, and we have to get an environment where that is generally accepted so people feel comfortable and confident to seek help,” he said.
To read the full article, click here.