Morris County sheriff’s program is about helping rather than arresting addicts
In Morris County, Sheriff James Gannon is building on the success of a mobile van program that seeks to rescue those with addiction issues. It's called the PAARI program.
Gannon says PAARI stands for Police-Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative. Anyone with an addiction problem can go to police, surrender their drugs and paraphernalia and they'll be steered toward help.
"PAARI is a tool in the toolbox of the local police," he said. "The PAARI program is a program that started out in New England and now there's hundreds of police departments involved. Now we're going to be the first in New Jersey."
Gannon says they are working with local police chiefs and Morris County Prosecutor Fred Knapp.
"This is designed for the simple user and it's a great program. We have a lot of hope here," he said.
"We offer them services. I think the first thing we have to recognize is this is an evolving mindset. Arresting people who are struggling with opioid and other drug addictions is not the solution. It merely perpetuates the cycle of incarceration and criminal recidivism.
"We know that users are committing burglaries or car burglaries or thefts from loved ones or retail theft shoplifting, those types of things. We know that those crimes will not be curtailed without offering the person a pathway to treatment. This will be that pathway to treatment."
The county's other program, the Hope One mobile van, has been finding people with addiction issues who are seeking help.
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5