Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes has announced the completion of “Operation Helping Hand,” an innovative law enforcement and public health initiative targeting the opioid crisis in Passaic County.
During the week-long initiative that ran from July 13 through July 17, 37 individuals were arrested for low-level drug offenses including possession of controlled dangerous substances. The individuals arrested were residents of Bergen, Essex, Middlesex, Ocean, Passaic and Sussex Counties in New Jersey and also included residents of New York and Pennsylvania.
“Operation Helping Hand” provides an alternative to immediate incarceration and offers substance abuse treatment.
Each individual arrested during this initiative was privately screened by a peer recovery specialist from the Morris County Center for Addiction Recovery, Education and Success (CARES) in an effort to connect them with treatment and recovery services.
Of all the individuals arrested as a result of this operation, 33 people, or 89 percent, accepted substance abuse treatment. They either made arrangements to begin out-patient treatment at a later date or were transported directly to treatment facilities by a member of law enforcement.
Acceptance of treatment was not in lieu of arrest. Rather, this process turns law enforcement encounters into an opportunity for individuals to turn their lives around and help break the cycle of addiction by connecting each individual with vital treatment, recovery and support services.
In 2019, Passaic County law enforcement agencies administered 329 Narcan Deployments.
Narcan, which is also referred to as Naloxone, is a medicine administered by way of a spray into the nostrils of someone suffering from an opioid overdose, in an attempt to counteract that overdose. In addition, there were 103 fatal overdoses reported in Passaic County in 2019.
With the collaborative effort of law enforcement and substance abuse treatment agencies, it is the mission of all those involved that the number of people afflicted with opioid addiction eventually decreases and that those who once suffered from its grasp can lead fruitful, productive and healthy lives.