OCPO HEROIN TREATMENT PROGRAM TO HELP THOSE FIGHTING ADDICTION SPREADS ACROSS OCEAN COUNTY
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Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato today announced the “Blue Harp” (Heroin Addiction Response Program) continues to grow in Ocean County by adding two additional partners to the participating police departments. Lacey Township Police Chief Michael DiBella, and Ocean Gate Police Officer in Charge Lt. Michael Kuchta have successfully prepared their departments to join Stafford Township, Brick Township and Manchester Township Police in providing critical addiction recovery help.
The “Blue HART” program, which initially began on January 9, 2017 under the name HARP was the first of its kind law enforcement addiction help program. The program allows substance abusers to turn themselves and their product in at any of the five (5) participating police headquarters in order to go to addiction services providers for treatment evaluation without any threat of charges or jail.
On Monday (8/7), Ocean Gate PD will join this innovative initiative and Lacey Township PD, which quietly began their program in mid-June to fine tune their operation, will officially declare their participation in the effort by collaborating with Ocean Mental Health in Manahawkin and Bayville. Presently, Stafford PD is already aligned with Ocean Mental Health, Brick PD is partnered with Preferred Behavioral Health in Lakewood and Manchester PD works with Integrity House in Toms River. The expansion of the program now makes help available at Ocean Gate and Lacey PDs on Monday, Stafford PD on Tuesday, Manchester PD on Wednesday or Brick PD on Thursday for those seeking immediate critical help in fighting drug addiction.
Blue HART is designed to go beyond OCPO’s initial proactive Narcan and Recovery Coach Program measures to offer substantial diversion help in order to reduce the impact of heroin and opiate abuse in our community. The premise of the program is simple – any person who voluntarily enters the three participating agencies and requests help with addiction to heroin or opiates, or any substance, shall be immediately screened for potential participation in the program. Though the program is primarily designed to apply to persons who present themselves at the station, an officer who encounters a person outside the police station believing they would benefit from Blue HART has the discretion, based upon their training and experience, to the bring an individual to the police station if the person consents to the voluntary screening process. The officer/shift supervisor, upon completion of the Blue HART screening process shall provide transportation for the participant to the designated provider as soon as reasonably possible.
Prosecutor Coronato stated, “I applaud the participating police department’s proactive efforts and eagerness to help those in their communities fight this tragic epidemic. Since January, “Blue HART” has helped over 200 individuals to successfully fight the curse of addiction. I cannot thank enough Behavioral Health, Integrity House and Ocean Mental Health for their generous commitment to the people of Ocean County in making our vision a reality. Our county leads the state in providing lifesaving options to those fighting and seeking addiction help.”