Community members and law enforcement officials from the city of Farmington Hills, in southeastern Michigan have been joining forces to increase access to drug addiction treatment.
The Farmington Hills Police Department and the Farmington Public Safety Department have partnered with the Hope Not Handcuffs program launched by the Families Against Narcotics to educate and train volunteers to assist people with substance use disorders who look for help.
Officers from the local police departments reach out to the volunteers who have completed the training sessions — called ‘angel volunteers’ — when a person comes in looking for assistance to recover from a substance use disorder. The volunteer will then get directed to the police department and work on intake paperwork before finding an inpatient addiction treatment center that has the availability to accommodate the person who sought assistance.
The angel volunteers are trained to provide compassionate support until the person has been accommodated in a facility that offers a suitable addiction treatment program.
Members of the Families Against Narcotics collaborated with Michigan-based law enforcement officials and organizations to create Hope Not Handcuffs in February 2017. The focus of the program has been to bring community organizations and law enforcement officials together to locate effective addiction treatment services to all of the people who wish to recover.
A total of 41 police departments across the state have participated in Hope Not Handcuffs and 1324 people have received help since the establishment of the program. The officers do not arrest those who come into a participating police department for help overcoming a substance use disorder unless they have a committed a felony or a misdemeanor in the past.
More than 200 angel volunteers have participated in the initiative. Yet, Katie Donovan, co-founder of the program, highlighted that Families Against Narcotics is still looking to get more volunteers to join the Hope Not Handcuffs initiative.
The volunteer training sessions are held at the Farmington Hills City Council Chambers and welcome any person who wishes to go through training to help. Volunteers should preferably live in close proximity to a participating police department in order to meet the people who need assistance in no more than 20 minutes after speaking with an officer.
According to Frank Demers, the director of the Farmington Public Safety Department, the fact that the volunteers show up quickly to help people get into an addiction treatment center is crucial.
He also explained that part of the mission of his department and its members is to do anything that can possibly be done to help the community members who need and actively look for help recovering from a substance use disorder.
At this time, there are 16 law enforcement agencies participating in the Hope Not Handcuffs program across Oakland County, where Farmington Hills is located. And another police department, located in Hazel Park, is set to be joining the addiction treatment program in the near future.
Several other police departments located in different counties throughout Michigan are also expected to be adopting the program in the next few months.