Duck of Justice

The Duck of Justice for 6/8/17: The challenge to heal

From The Bangor Police Department:

The addiction crisis that has cloaked our state in a dark cloud of desperation weighs heavy on the law enforcement community.

What the average citizen sees, and understandably believes at times, is that cops are only concerned with incarcerating those stricken with addiction.

What you don’t typically hear is the conversations in cruisers, our roll call rooms, or hallways. Most of these are centered on the feeling of numbness and futility we feel when the only tool we have is the power of arrest and a couple of doses of Narcan in our gear bags.

Saving a life is a wonderful thing, having no ability to follow-up because our gear bag did not contain even one dose of hope is another thing all together. It’s easy to say that we want to help you, the cold hard fact is that there was no place to send those that truly wanted an opportunity.

This is why the entire Bangor Police Department is excited about our new Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program. Yes, LEAD is another acronym, it also gives the most desperate a chance to survive and thrive.

The Bangor Police Department has collaborated with the Bangor based Health Equity Alliance to develop the LEAD pilot program right here in Bangor. This program offers an option of redirecting those who commit low grade violations toward community based services in lieu of a court room or jail cell.

The first program, in King County, Washington, started in 2011. It has since proven successful in many communities across the country. The program has proven (we like things that are proven) to reduce recidivism rates and decrease the burden on the criminal justice system. We hope for the same in Bangor.

The program will not work for everyone. It is not an option in all instances. It will work for those who seek treatment and support.

A group of trained Bangor Police officers, who have volunteered to participate in our pilot program, will employ their skills, use their contacts, and make street level decisions based on their direct engagement with those who commit low tiered crime or are in a drug connected crisis.

I am elated to tell you that we had our first participant take the challenge to heal just this week. We are hopeful.

If you are looking for additional information the program you can contact our coordinator, Officer Jason McAmbley (jason.mcambley@bangormaine.gov) or Gretchen Zimmer at 207-990-3626 (www.mainehealthequity.org)

We continue to be hopeful, and that is how great things begin.

Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people’s things alone, and be kind to one another.

We will be here.

TC

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