WINTHROP — Town Manager Austin Faison and Police Chief Terence Delehanty are pleased to share that Winthrop’s Public Health Director and a Police Sergeant showcased the town’s efforts to support those recovering from substance use during a webinar with colleagues from across the country.
On Wednesday, Jan. 27, Health Director Meredith Hurley and Sgt. Sarko Gergerian presented on the Winthrop Recovery Model, of which Sgt. Gergerian is a founding member, at the Peer Support in Law Enforcement Diversion Programs webinar. The model has been recognized nationally for its success in outreach, peer support and community-oriented recovery.
“This was a tremendous opportunity to connect with peers in policing throughout the country and share the success we’ve had and challenges we’ve faced in implementing our recovery based diversion program,” Sgt. Gergerian said. “We’re extremely grateful for the opportunity, and are eager to continue working with those interested in bringing similar approaches to their communities.”
Winthrop’s was one of two police department diversion programs — along with Tucson, Arizona’s — featured yesterday. The program was put together by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant and Substance Abuse Program (COSSAP). Sgt. Gergerian and Hurley presented to 278 participants from law enforcement agencies nationwide at the webinar.
In their presentation, Hurley and Sgt. Gergerian outlined their program model, including how it integrates peer specialists to support recovery and how those specialists are trained to provide peer services. They also identified the importance of stakeholder relationships, like Winthrop’s partnerships with Boston Medical Center, East Boston District Court, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative.
Hurley and Sgt. Gergerian outlined the outcomes of the program, including connecting over 80 people to recovery resources since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Winthrop Police have also distributed more than 20 overdose survival kits since the beginning of the pandemic.
Winthrop has been identified as a federal mentor site for 2021, which empowers the department to provide training on its diversion model to communities throughout the U.S. As mentors, Gergerian and Hurley will serve as subject matter experts assisting with the development of public health and safety partnerships that want to use peer-based support services to support recovery.
“Recovery is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted approach, and we’re pleased to be able to share what’s worked in Winthrop and how we’ve developed our model over several years,” Hurley said. “It was very encouraging to see hundreds of people from across the country taking an interest in this topic and exploring how they can implement or expand their own recovery-based models and get those struggling with addiction and other challenges the help they need.”
The Winthrop Recovery Model also emphasizes a multidisciplinary approach, with knowledge spanning nursing, mental health counseling, recovery coaching and policing to help people with housing difficulties, food scarcity, domestic violence, mental health and substance use disorders and more. Through that approach, the Winthrop team connects those in need to psychiatric resources, medical support and inpatient recovery placements.