Watch CBS News

Gloucester PD Drug Program Aimed At 'Changing The Conversation' On Addiction

GLOUCESTER (CBS) – A drug program aimed at getting addicts clean rather than sending them to jail goes into effect next week in Gloucester.

The Gloucester Police Department's Volunteer ANGEL program, also called The Gloucester Initiative, was finalized and starts Monday, June 1.

Read: Gloucester's Drug Addiction Plan (.pdf)

Anyone who comes to the police station to ask for help with drug addiction will be screened into the program and brought to Addison Gilbert Hospital.

If the person is in possession of drugs, items will be seized but they will not be charged.

Once an officer brings the addict to Addison Gilbert, they will stay there until a volunteer arrives to relieve them.

"Then the police department's role ends, and treatment begins," Gloucester police said.

Gloucester Chief
Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello. (WBZ-TV)

There will be exceptions to who is eligible for the ANGEL program, police added.

Exceptions include if a person has an outstanding warrant, if they have prior drug arrests, if the officer believes the addict could put him in danger, and if the participant is under 18 years old and does not have parent or guardian consent.

Last week, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett warned the department that while he applauded the general idea of the proposal, a promise to not charge addicts may "lack legal authority."

"Gloucester is changing the conversation. Police officers exist to help people. Drug addiction is a disease, and drug addicts need help. We, the members of the Gloucester Police Department, are choosing to take direct action," Police Chief Leonard Campanello said. "The stigma associated with heroin and opiate addiction is over. Police officers are here to help you, not judge you."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.