- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 5, 2016

KEENE, N.H. (AP) - Two New Hampshire law enforcement officials are among a group of law enforcement officials planning to meet Wednesday with the national drug control policy director and senior White House officials on the opioid epidemic.

Keene Police Chief Brian Costa and Cheshire County Sheriff Eli Rivera will discuss the administration’s efforts to address the crisis.

Costa and Rivera also plan to discuss their partnership with the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative, a network of over 140 police departments and 300 treatment centers with a mission to promote treatment rather than to simply arrest and jail people.

In Cheshire County, the group has allowed for on-call recovery coaches 24 hours a day, seven days a week, who respond to a hospital to assist anyone who needs substance abuse treatment. The program has been operating for two months.

“Our biggest success is getting all first responders and Cheshire Medical Center to partner with us and provide this critical service within an hour of a request for help,” Rivera said Tuesday. He said the majority of time, “this is the most critical moment for a person, and we need to jump on it.”

Rivera said he plans to emphasize the need for funding at the meeting with National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli and others.

New Hampshire saw more than 400 drug overdose deaths last year, a state record.

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