Hope Not Handcuffs Sees Initial Success

by ANDREW NEAL
@NealSchmeal

This month, Macomb County police departments launched Hope Not Handcuffs, a program designed to allow addicts seeking help to enter any police station without the fear of being arrested. And it’s working.

With the cooperation of 20 participating agencies in Macomb County, including Shelby Township and Utica, and foundations like Families Against Narcotics, the program has seen initial success, with 52 people seeking treatment in the first three weeks. And it’s easy to do.

Walk into any of the 20 stations (listed below) or fill out an online assessment form at FamiliesAgainstNarcotics.org. Either way – from there, a volunteer “angel” will contact you and connect you with the necessary treatment, worry-free.

As it says on their site, “An Angel will be available to respond to participants that submit the online assessment form as well as providing onsite support for participants who walk into a police agency seeking help.”

Taking the first step in recovery is the hardest, but Hope Not Handcuffs makes it a little easier.

“It’s great to see that this program is working and people are getting the help they need!” said a statement on the Shelby Township Police Department Facebook page. “We are so happy to be able to be a part of this effort.”

Linda Davis, a district court judge in Clinton Township, has helped spearhead this program and says the first month has far exceeded their expectations. “I think the commitment of actually walking into a police department really shows a desire to want to get clean, but obviously there are fears of doing that because of prior legal problems, so we just wanted to have a safety net there so people won’t go get help just because they’re scared.”

Judge Davis is encouraged by the police departments that have signed on to help as well as the ones reaching out to join, and says they are becoming a part of the solution.

“Most police departments just want to see these kids go get help. It’s been amazing. It’s been a real shift in attitude.”

That, along with treatment and transportation resources, has quickly turned this program into an example for other communities battling the opioid/heroin epidemic.

“The amazing part of this is the community support for it,” said Judge Davis. “We have over 200 angels now and these people are so committed and they’re so excited.”

They are excited to see hope first-hand, because addiction is a disease, not a moral shortcoming. It’s not a choice, it’s a nightmare. Jails are filling up across the nation with non-violent drug offenders and they are released back into the world as sober addicts, and the cycle repeats itself. What we’ve been doing has not been working. Unless you own a jail, the war on drugs has failed.

Hope Not Handcuffs is a sign of things to come. If you need help, go get it, because we’re going to need you for this fight.

If you are an addict seeking help, fill out this simple form and take the first step forward in your new life.