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Have drugs, need help? These NJ police stations won’t arrest you

Drug syringe and cooked heroin on spoon
FotoMaximum, ThinkStock

Drug addicts will soon have more options in New Jersey to turn themselves in to police — not to be charged, but to be rehabilitated.

Following the leads of West Orange and Ocean County, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office has announced a pilot program that will soon allow those suffering from addiction to walk into select police stations — even with drugs in hand — and request treatment.

Walk-in hours, one day per week, will be scheduled at police headquarters in Lyndhurst, Mahwah and Paramus.

“Heroin and opioid overdoses continue to rise across our country and across our state, including in Bergen County,” said Prosecutor Gurbir Grewal in a news release. “This increase is attributable to both an overall rise in the number of individuals abusing heroin and opioids and to an increase in the potency of the heroin being sold in our state, which is often mixed or substituted with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid up to 50 times more powerful than heroin.”

A similar program has been underway since mid-January in Ocean County. On Wednesdays, addicts can walk into the Brick Police Department and get placed into treatment, whether or not they’re insured. The Manchester Police Departments accepts walk-ins on Thursdays.

“So far we’ve had about 125 people that we’ve actually processed through the program,” Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato told New Jersey 101.5. “People have packed their luggage and they’re ready to go.”

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato (Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ)
Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato (Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ)

Some people have walked in with drugs to help ease the recovery process when they eventually return from treatment.

“If they present their drugs, they’re not going to be charged,” Coronato said.

The county has plans to expand the program to Stafford within the next couple weeks. The police department would run the program on Tuesdays.

As of late Tuesday, Ocean County experienced 37 fatal overdoses in 2017. The lifesaving heroin antidote has been deployed 100 times.

Each week, Coronato receives a status update on each person who’s being assisted through the program. He can track where they are in the recovery process.

“What I’m interested in is outcomes,” Coronato said.

West Orange debuted their cop-to-treatment program on Oct. 1. Participants are paired with a volunteer “angel” to help guide them through recovery.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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