Beacon joins pro-treatment effort
Beacon officials on Wednesday (Sept. 9) announced the city’s partnership with Hope Not Handcuffs, a nonprofit formed to connect communities and law enforcement as a means of helping, rather than incarcerating, people struggling with addiction.
If someone comes into the Beacon Police Department any day between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. and asks to go to rehabilitation for substance addiction, “they will be treated with compassion and respect,” Mayor Lee Kyriacou said during a press conference. A call will be made to an “angel” volunteer from the Hope Not Handcuffs network, who will come to assist with paperwork and seek out a treatment plan.
The program is designed to give addicts an “instant advocate” as well as access to a network of resources to assist in their treatment and recovery. In addition to the Beacon department’s Narcan program, which the city said “has saved many lives already,” Hope Not Handcuffs is meant to remove the criminal stigma associated with addiction.
“We should be making it easier, not harder, for those who suffer from harmful addictions to make positive changes in their lives,” Kyriacou said. “I’d like to thank our Police Department and Hope Not Handcuffs for making the process to recovery a little less intimidating.”
Hope Not Handcuffs was created by Families Against Narcotics, a Michigan-based group founded in 2007 following a series of teen overdoses.
The meetings it arranges between volunteers and those suffering from addiction always take place at a participating police station. Once a treatment option is found, transportation will be arranged, although individuals with outstanding felony or domestic violence warrants, with medical conditions that may require hospitalization, or people considered a danger to others may not be eligible.
The program is all-volunteer, and comes at no cost to participating municipalities. Eighty-three law-enforcement agencies in Michigan, along with 22 in New York, now participate.
A Hudson Valley chapter, founded last year in Orange County, includes 25 police departments in five counties, incorporating 900 officers and a volunteer force of more than 500. Beacon becomes the second Dutchess County municipality to partner with the organization, joining Wappingers Falls.
“We’re very enthusiastic about the program,” said Acting Beacon Police Chief Sands Frost. “The nature of our profession puts us in contact with many people who are going through tough times in their lives. It would bring us a great sense of satisfaction to know that we would be able to assist someone in not only bettering their lives but also the lives of loved ones around them and the community as a whole.”
The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department and Cold Spring police joined the Hudson Valley coalition last year, as well.
A similar project, the Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative, has a national network of more than 400 police departments in 32 states.