LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4) – The Longmont Police Department is taking a new approach to drug addiction. They’re now calling for volunteers to help out and be “angels” to people struggling with addiction.
Dr. Steve Henderson, a retired physician, is one of the first volunteers to sign up for a new program by Longmont police called the Angel Initiative.
“I really appreciate taking a different approach and allowing people to get off the track that they’re on and save their lives,” Henderson said.
Police are inviting anyone struggling with addiction to walk through their doors to get the help that’s needed. Addicts don’t have to worry about being arrested. Instead, they’ll partner with a volunteer like Henderson who will comfort and listen while police find the right treatment resources.
“If they come to the police department and we will quickly, effectively and compassionately get you into some type of treatment with the goal of helping you recover from that disease,” Deputy Chief Jeff Satur said.
Health care workers in Boulder County say more people are now dying from accidental drug overdoses than car accidents.
Carol Helwig with Boulder County Public Health says addiction impacts everyone.
“All kinds of social groups, ages and we need to offer that support,” Helwig said.
The goal is to treat addiction, rather than criminalize people with a disease. Police want treatment before a person’s life spirals so far out of control that crimes are then being committed to feed an addiction.
Henderson says it’s a different approach but necessary.
“There is hope that it will work and keep people from going down a path to catastrophe,” he said.
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer with the program, head down to Longmont’s Safety and Justice Center. There is an application process. They will provide you with the training. Longmont is the first police department in Colorado to partner with the Police Assisted Addiction and Treatment Initiative.