Pubdate: Tue, 24 Mar 2015
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 2015 New Haven Register
Author: Paul Hammer


Several years ago at a public forum, I found myself sitting in front 
of Mayor John Daniels. I took the opportunity to ask him what he 
thought was the greatest legacy of his administration. He responded 
that community policing would have been his greatest legacy but that 
the city had all but abandoned it. Fortunately this approach to law 
enforcement has since been restored.

Mayor Daniels said that the city's needle-exchange program had been 
his greatest single gift to the city. This program, which he had 
first opposed and ultimately embraced, was shown by a landmark Yale 
Public Health study to have reduced new AIDS infections in New Haven 
(80 percent of which were transmitted by hypodermic needles) by a 
third. The level of trust created by not being subject to arrest by 
participating also provided an opportunity for health professionals 
to refer addicts to drug rehabilitation programs that they might 
otherwise not have known about or been open to considering.

The Yale study was cited by many advocates and officials around the 
country in making the case for instituting similar programs in their 
states and cities. So, while the New Haven program was not the first, 
it may have been the most influential. I'm sure Mayor Daniels was 
proud of New Haven's pioneering role, but his real pride lay in 
stemming an epidemic and saving lives in the city he loved, 
redefining the war on drugs so it was no longer a war against its victims. -

Paul Hammer,

New Haven
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