- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Police Chief Leonard Campanello of Gloucester, Massachusetts, has started offering recovery to heroin addicts who show up at the local police station — no strings attached.

“We’re committed to the idea of attacking the demand rather than attacking the supply,” Chief Campanello, a former narcotics detective, told Boston.com.

Addicts who show up at the station seeking help, even if they’re carrying drugs on them, will not be charged and instead be assigned an “angel” to walk them through the recovery process, the police chief wrote in a May 4 Facebook post that’s been shared nearly 30,000 times.

“I have been on both sides of this issue, having spent 7 years as a plainclothes narcotics detective,” he wrote. “I have arrested or charged many addicts and dealers. I’ve never arrested a tobacco addict, nor have I ever seen one turned down for help when they develop lung cancer, whether or not they have insurance. The reasons for the difference in care between a tobacco addict and an opiate addict is stigma and money. Petty reasons to lose a life.”

The Gloucester police station is receiving help from Addison Gilbert Hospital and Lahey Health Behavioral Services. Seized drug money will also pay for addicts to receive free doses of nasal Narcan, which is used to reverse opiate overdoses, Boston.com reported.

“The police department will pay the cost of nasal Narcan for those without insurance,” Chief Campanello wrote. “We will pay for it with money seized from drug dealers during investigations. We will save lives with the money from the pockets of those who would take them.”

While addicts will get help, dealers will not get a pass in Gloucester, he said.

“If you’re a dealer, we have no use for you,” he told Boston.com. “You’re making money out of the pain of others.”

The police chief was in Washington, D.C., Tuesday as part of a two-day trip to speak with lawmakers about lobbying for more federal drug forfeiture dollars to be funneled to local communities, The Gloucester Times reported.

He said he found both Sens. Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren “very committed and responsive” in face-to-face discussions of his policies in tackling the city’s addiction crisis.

“I know nothing happens immediately in Washington, but they both seem committed to exploring the earmarking of these funds for addiction and recovery programs,” Chief Campanello told The Times before a meeting with Michael Botticelli, the Obama administration’s director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

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