Pubdate: Sat, 25 Jun 2011 Source: Patriot Ledger, The (Quincy, MA) Copyright: 2011 GateHouse Media, Inc. Contact: http://www.patriotledger.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1619 Author: Jack Encarnacao, The Patriot Ledger QUINCY POLICE SEEK REHAB FOR ADDICTS Prosecution and Jail No Longer Seen As Effective Deterrents QUINCY - On a blackboard in the drug unit's office at Quincy police headquarters, detectives have scribbled a grid of license plate numbers, vehicle types and names. These are the people the unit is building cases against for dealing drugs, mostly heroin and OxyContin. Their stated goal is to make it as difficult as possible for these people to deal in Quincy. Eradicating them altogether is beyond what the eight-person team can be expected to achieve on its own, unit head Lt. Patrick Glynn said. "Individual communities, the best you can do is dispersion, meaning (the drugs) are going to go into another community," he said. "But that's not solving the problem. It's just going around in a circle." As for users, police and prosecutors are increasingly looking to force them into treatment programs rather than charge them and put them in jail. There's a simple reason for this, Glynn said. He said despite drug arrests "skyrocketing" -- his unit made 303 arrests in 2010 compared with 236 in 2009 -- overdoses have persisted at a steady clip. "Arrests alone are not going to solve the drug problem," Glynn said. "We've acknowledged that." Instead, police are focusing on rehabilitative measures. Prosecutors and police often offer busted users the opportunity to avoid charges if they attend rehab. Quincy officers carry Narcan in their cruisers, a nasal spray that reverses the effects of an opiate overdose. Since January, the department has used it to save 23 overdose victims. Quincy's drug unit keeps a log of each overdose they respond to, noting the name and address of the victim. This way, if they encounter the same person again, they can build a case for a substance-abuse petition to the court. If granted by a judge, the petitions essentially force a person to attend rehab. Even if police wanted to, charging every heroin or opiate addict police encounter with a crime would be a thorny legal proposition. Police need to recover actual drugs to charge someone with possession, and test results from syringes aren't admissible as evidence, Glynn said. By the time police arrive at an overdose scene, drugs like heroin or pills have already been injected or ingested. For overdose victims simply rushed to the emergency room, sometimes with a needle found stuck in their arm, Glynn said there is an "extreme shortage" of local treatment beds for them to go to wean off drugs after they're stabilized. So, within days, it's back to the street for the addict. In time, he's overwhelmingly likely to seek out another fix, likely from one of the same dealers whose names and plate numbers are written on the drug unit's blackboard. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.