"This may seem counter-intuitive," said Chief Marc Montminy of the Manchester Police Department. "Police typically treat drug abusers as criminals and not those in need of assistance, but this perspective has proven to be ineffective."
Town leaders announced the start of the H.O.P.E. Initiative at a press conference Monday afternoon. "H.O.P.E." stands for "Heroin/Opioid Prevention and Education," and the program is designed to get addicts the help they need, rather than sending them through the legal system for drug-related offenses.
Police say people needing addiction treatment can come to the Manchester Police Department with any contraband and turn it in without fear of an arrest. Police will help that person get in contact with local medical professionals to get treatment.
The policy is dependent upon people voluntarily coming in, rather than being arrested for an offense by an officer.
"This is such a huge huge problem across the country and across the world," said Dr. Robert Carol of the Eastern Connecticut Health Network. "I don't know who said this but I use this line all the time: if we continue to do what we've always done, we'll continue to get what we've always got."