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.

CBS4's Jennifer Brice interviews Dr. Steve Henderson (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Jennifer Brice interviews Dr. Steve Henderson (credit: CBS)

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.

Deputy Chief Jeff Satur (credit: CBS)

Deputy Chief Jeff Satur (credit: CBS)

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.

The Longmont Safety and Justice Center (credit: CBS)

The Longmont Safety and Justice Center (credit: CBS)

Additional Information

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.

LINK: paariusa.org

  1. mrmX71 says:

    Stop the drug war with objective of shutting down the black market. The drug war has failed. Decriminalization/legalization is necessary, it needs to be backed up with public health announcements explaining exactly why it is needed. Its not in any way condoning the abuse of addictors, it is done bc the alternative, the drug war, has made things infinitely worse on almost every level, to include making drugs abundantly available to any & all that wants them.
    We need to pull LE out of the drug biz – that will free up a lot of resources currently chasing their collective tails. When the laws create more harm and cause more damage than they prevent, its time to change the laws. The $1 TRILLION so-called war on drugs is a massive big government failure – on nearly every single level. Its way past time to put the cartels & black market drug dealers out of business. Mass incarceration has failed. We cant even keep drugs out of a contained & controlled environment like prison.
    We need the science of addiction causation to guide prevention, treatment, recovery & public policies. Otherwise, things will inexorably just continue to worsen & no progress will be made. Addiction causation research has continued to show that some people (suffering with addiction) have a “hypo-active endogenous opioid/reward system.” This is the (real) brain disease, making addiction a symptom, not a disease itself. One disease, one pathology. Policy must be made reflecting addiction(s) as a health issue.
    The war on drugs is an apotheosis of the largest & longest war failure in history. It actually exposes our children to more harm & risk and does not protect them whatsoever. In all actuality, the war on drugs is nothing more than an international projection of a domestic psychosis. It is not the “great child protection act,” its actually the complete opposite.
    The lesson is clear: Drug laws do not stop people from harming themselves, but they do cause addicts to commit crimes and harm others. We need a new approach that decriminalizes the disease. We must protect society from the collateral damage of addiction and stop waging war on ourselves. We need common sense harm reduction approaches desperately. MAT (medication assisted treatment) and HAT (heroin assisted treatment) must be available options. Of course, MJ should not be a sched drug at all.

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