Police Chiefs Discuss How To Help Opioid Addicts At Boston Summit

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Police chiefs from around the country met in Boston Tuesday to talk about how their departments can help secure treatment for opioid addicts.

It's the national summit of the locally-started Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative, or PAARI for short, where those chiefs are hoping to learn from successes like the one in Gloucester.

When Gloucester first began its Angel program in 2015, promising addicts they'd be sent to treatment programs rather than jail, it created national headlines. Two years later, it has spurred imitators nationwide.

Lansing, Michigan is starting its own such program, and that's what brought Chief Michael Lankowski to Boston. 

He told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Kendall Buhl that he's come to believe firmly that it's understanding and treatment, not arrest and incarceration, that addicts need.

"What the police departments are supposed to do in this country is to save lives and to make our community better," Yankowski said. "And making our community better means we have to think outside of the box by not putting them in our prisons."

Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said seeing an organization his department joined in 2015 as only a second member hold a conference that brings in law enforcement from across the country gives him "Goosebumps."

"I can't believe in such a short amount of time how fast this has grown across the country," he said.

Chief Solomon said he spent the previous night with officials from five other states talking about techniques.

"What exactly are you doing that I could tweak?" he said. "We share our info, we steal from each other. The idea is just getting more help."

Chief Yankowski and other chiefs said it's taken some convincing among the rank and file, but more and more officers are coming around, just like departments across the country.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Kendall Buhl reports

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content