Pubdate: Sun, 14 Feb 2016
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2016 The Dallas Morning News, Inc.
Author: Scott Burns


GLOUCESTER, Mass. - Leonard Campanello leans forward. "There's no 
incentive or coercion that will stop an addict," he says. "This is 
the only long-term illness on the planet where if the disease 
presents itself, they kick you out" of treatment.

I met Campanello at the Sugar Magnolias breakfast place on Main 
Street in downtown Gloucester, where he told me about his amazing 
offer to drug addicts. It's an offer that will change drug treatment 
in America, reduce crime, decrease drug-related deaths, drop 
incarceration and destigmatize substance abuse while restoring the 
community role of the police. It will save lives and money at the 
same time. This is a sea change. Before you get the wrong idea, let 
me assure you that Campanello, the chief of police in this city of 
28,000, isn't a reformer. He doesn't look like a reformer. He's a 
cop, a fact-and-evidence guy. He speaks without hyperbole in a 
boots-on-the-ground Boston accent. You can't listen to him without 
having a sense that he is absolutely right. So what was that amazing 
offer? Last year, on March 5, after a string of fatal overdoses in 
Gloucester, Campanello made this declaration on the department's Facebook page:

As a police department, let me again make our policy clear:

If you are not involved in opiates or heroin, help us. Inform 
yourself, call us when you see activity, volunteer. You can make a difference.

If you are a user of opiates or heroin, let us help you. We know you 
do not want this addiction. We have resources here in the city that 
can and will make a difference in your life. Do not become a statistic.

If you are a dealer of heroin, opiates or any other poison ... We are 
coming for you. We will find you. We will prosecute you to the 
fullest extent possible. You will pay the price for making money off 
the misery of others. It's not a matter of if we find you; it's a 
matter of when. You've gotten your warning. Get out of our city.

A few days, later, Campanello made the offer very clear: In 
Gloucester, an addict could come to police headquarters, give up his 
supply of drugs, and he would not be arrested. Instead, he would be 
offered detox and a recovery program overseen by a crew of "angels" 
who would provide long-term daily support.

In addition, the department would make certain that Narcan, a drug 
that counteracts opiates, would be readily available.

'Don't be ashamed'

As a result, Campanello could write this on the department Facebook 
page on Jan. 18 of this year.

"Today I write directly to the person suffering from addiction. 
Gloucester had four overdoses in the last 24 hours. That's the bad news.

The good news is all were brought back to us by the increased 
availability and proliferation of Narcan. A city outside Boston had 
30 overdoses in the last 48 hours. ...

"Don't be ashamed of your illness. We are not ashamed of you. ..

"We've dedicated the last eight months to helping YOU. Why? Because 
we don't want to lose you. When you're ready, we will be here."

Note that this is not a top-down change from thinkers on high. It is, 
like virtually all real change, from the grass roots.

Campanello, a former undercover cop, simply got tired of "arresting 
the same people over and over." And seeing the death and devastation 
of drug addiction made his frustration worse.

An initiative

In 2014, there were 47,055 deaths nationwide from lethal drug 
overdoses. In that number, nearly twice as many died from 
prescription painkillers as from heroin.

Campanello is not alone.

When the original Facebook posting went viral, he called John 
Rosenthal, a Boston real estate developer who had earlier volunteered 
help if he ever needed it. The response to the Gloucester initiative, 
Campanello told me, "was like trying to drink from a fire hose."

So they started the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery 
Initiative, a nonprofit that is organizing to spread and support the 
idea. Already, 57 police departments have joined, including Grapevine.

Will it end drug addiction in America? Sadly, no. But it may reduce 
it. And that's more than our endless, top-down "war on drugs" has done.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom