Methuen Police to Proactively Reach out to Drug Addicts in a Shift in Policing Strategy Inspired by The Gloucester Initiative

Methuen Police Department
Joseph Solomon, Chief of Police
Quinn Public Safety Building
90 Hampshire St.
Methuen, MA 01844

Gloucester Police Department
Leonard Campanello, Chief of Police
197 Main St.
Gloucester , MA 01930

For Immediate Release

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 617-993-0003
Email: [email protected]

Methuen Police Officers to Proactively Reach out to Drug Addicts in a Shift in Policing Strategy Inspired by The Gloucester Initiative

Department Hiring Two “Outreach Coordinators” to Work with Officers, Going Door-to-Door in Approach Similar to Arlington Police Initiative

METHUEN — Police Chief Joseph Solomon and Mayor Stephen N. Zanni report that, in a historic shift in policing policy, the Methuen Police Department will hire a pair of Outreach Coordinators to work with police officers to go door-to-door to known drug addicts and their families, offering aid and resources to help them fight the disease of drug addiction.

The Methuen Outreach Initiative is inspired by the Gloucester ANGEL Initiative and is similar to a program implemented in Arlington earlier this month. The Methuen Police Department is also partnering with The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, or P.A.A.R.I.,  as one of its law enforcement partners.

At its core, the Methuen Outreach Initiative is meant to put police officers on the front line of fighting addiction, rather than simply arresting drug addicts. This follows the mission statement of P.A.A.R.I. and the Gloucester Initiative.

“Methuen Police Officers are committed to assisting those who suffer from the disease of addiction. We become police officers to help people, not to simply arrest people because they have an illness,” Chief Solomon said. “We are a proactive police department, and while we will continue to aggressively pursue drug dealers and traffickers, we believe there is tremendous potential in tapping recovery centers and providing educational resources to streamline the process of getting a person into a long-term recovery program.”

When Methuen Police arrest a drug dealer, they often find his or her list of customer. The Methuen Police Department equipped each of its officers with Nasal Narcan last year, and the lifesaving opioid antagonist drug has been used more than 100 times since then.  As a result, Methuen Police have become aware of literally hundreds of people, including caregivers, spouses, friends, parents, and children directly affected by the opioid epidemic.

“We can no longer ignore this information,” Chief Solomon said. “We will use this intelligence to go out into our community and offer help. That’s all we are doing. We are not forcing anyone to do anything, or even to talk to us. We just want people to know that we are here to help if they want it.”

The Outreach Coordinators will be part-time civilian employees of the Methuen Police Department. Their job responsibilities will include:

  • Researching and acting as a liaison with detox and long-term recovery centers to build partnerships for Methuen residents
  • Working with Officers to identify, visit, and provide information to addicts and their families and friends
  • Attending community meetings and building partnerships in and around the City of Methuen
  • Participating in an on-going collaboration with programs providing educational, employment, medical and housing support to people in recovery, so that the process does not end with “placement” in recovery

Consideration will be shown to multi-lingual applicants who have experience working across diverse cultures.

“We applaud the efforts of Chief Leonard Campanello of the Gloucester Police Department for starting a very important conversation. The City of Methuen prides itself on being proactive, especially on difficult and controversial issues like school violence, domestic violence, addiction, and we are very proud to launch The Methuen Outreach Initiative,” Mayor Zanni said. “By working together, we can get people suffering from addiction into treatment so that they can retake their lives.”

While not identical, The Methuen Outreach Initiative is inspired by the Gloucester Police Department ANGEL Initiative, created by Chief Campanello earlier this year. Gloucester’s Initiative allows people who suffer from addiction to turn over their remaining drug supply and paraphernalia to the Gloucester Police Department without the threat of arrest and then fast-tracks the participant into a treatment center.

“Police officers have daily contact with addicts, and now we are saying ‘enough is enough.’ It is time for us to hold a hand out to these people, rather than put them in handcuffs,” Chief Campanello said. “I applaud Chief Solomon and Mayor Zanni for showing true leadership in joining this very important conversation.”

The Methuen Outreach Initiative is the latest in a series of measures taken by the Methuen Police Department in response to a national pandemic of heroin abuse and overdose deaths, including:

  • Installed a Drug turn-in Kiosk in the MPD police station lobby for residents to drop off unwanted/expired prescription narcotics.  As of July 2015, the department has collected & disposed of over 500 pounds of medication.
  • Training all officers on the administration of and equipping all department vehicles with Nasal Nacan
  • Narcotics detectives attended specialized federal training programs on drug labs and prescription pill abuse

  • Helping to establishing the Merrimack Valley Prevention and Substance Abuse Project (MVPASAP). The organization’s mission is to raise awareness and educate others about the disease of addiction. As part of our partnership with MVPASAP, officers attend regular meetings to assist community members. In addition, we helped with the planning and promoting of their annual Community Awareness Day, which is held annually in Methuen.
  • Working with community members to support the establishment of Haven For Hope, a women’s only sober house to help former addicts become a contributing member of society.
  • Funding a new K-9 drug detection dog program
  • Seizing more than 20 kilograms of heroin, 5 kilograms of Fentanyl, more than $500,000, and arresting several high profile drug traffickers in the past month.

About P.A.A.R.I.
The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.) was started to support local police departments as they work with opioid addicts. Rather than arrest our way out of the problem of drug addiction, P.A.A.R.I. committed police departments:

  • Encourage opioid drug users to seek recovery
  • Help distribute life saving opioid blocking drugs to prevent and treat overdoses
  • Connect addicts with treatment programs and facilities
  • Provide resources to other police departments and communities that want to do more to fight the opioid addiction epidemic

P.A.A.R.I. was created by Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello and John Rosenthal to bridge the gap between the police department and opioid addicts seeking recovery.