Drug deaths in Ocean County have double over two years despite law enforcement’s best effort to curb the rapidly growing addiction epidemic. Even with Narcan, the opiate reversing nasal spray, deaths continue to increase.
Last month, in conjunction with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office the Brick and Manchester police departments will begin an innovative initiative by partnering with Preferred Behavioral Health in Lakewood and Integrity House in Toms River to pilot the HARP program.
Initially, the two departments and their health providers will make the life changing option available two days a week. Those fighting addiction, regardless of their residency, can go to Manchester Police Department on Wednesday or Brick Police Department on Thursday to seek immediate critical help in fighting drug addiction.
The premise of the program is simple – any person who voluntarily enters the two participating agencies and requests help with addiction to heroin or opiates or any substance shall be immediately screened for potential participation in HARP.
Although HARP 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 HARP 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 HARP screening process shall provide transportation for the participant to the designated provider as soon as reasonably possible.