By Mark Powell
When Help Comes Calling
Sometimes, the challenge isn’t knowing what to do. It’s figuring out how to do it.
A few years ago, New Castle County was one of the hardest-hit counties for property crime. At the same time, the rate of overdoses in the community also continued to rise. It didn’t take long for law enforcement to realize that many of those arrested for property crimes also were dealing with a substance use disorder. They wanted to assist those people in getting help and also decrease crime. But how?
Former Police Chief E.M. Setting had heard about the Angel program in Massachusetts, a model that assists by providing treatment in lieu of arrest. He thought it was worth a closer look. And so, HERO HELP was launched in May 2016. Major Robert McLucas was tasked as the project’s coordinator.
“We took the basic idea of opening the doors of the police department 24/7 to anyone who suffers from any form of a substance use disorder,” McLucas says. “We wanted to help in more ways. We have data. We know nearly instantly about an overdose, such as who experienced it, where they were located, how many times they’ve overdosed.” They built a team of a uniformed police officer, a registered nurse who specializes in addiction, and a civilian coordinator. Using non-fatal overdose data from the New Castle County Police Department Crime Analysis Unit, outreach personnel identify individuals at high risk of fatal overdose and engage them in addiction treatment services, preventing future overdoses and empowering the community to affect change.
The HERO HELP Program is officially designated as a Delaware Community-Based Naloxone Access Program, allowing it to trai