2016-01-22 / In the Know

Operation HOPE marks 100th program placement

By John Gill Special to the Leader

On Tuesday, Jan. 11t Scarborough Police Department’s Operation HOPE (Heroin-Opiate Prevention Effort) placed its 100th participant in a drug treatment and rehabilitation program.

A greater Portland man in his 30s requested assistance in obtaining treatment for heroin addiction. He will receive drug treatment and rehabilitation services courtesy of an Operation HOPE cooperating treatment facility in California.

Since its launch on Oct. 1 last year, Operation HOPE has placed Mainers from Kittery to Fort Fairfield in rehabilitation programs in eight states.

Two-thirds of program participants lacked the health care coverage or financial resources which would have allowed them to obtain treatment on their own.

“This has truly been a community effort,” said Scarborough Police Chief Robbie Moulton.

Operation HOPE is staffed by volunteers under the supervision of Scarborough police and is supported by money and supplies donated by area residents, local businesses and civic organizations.

“We are extremely grateful to our volunteer Angels and the members of the public who have helped make Operation HOPE possible,” said Moulton. “We especially appreciate the strength and courage shown by the 100 men and women who have come forward to ask for help with this horrible disease”.

Moulton said the program has provided badly needed lifesaving treatment in the midst of Maine’s heroin and opiate crisis.

“Many of these people were in a desperate state and believed that without help, they were destined to die,” he said.

The demand for services through Operation HOPE is indicative of the gravity of Maine’s continuing heroin and opiate epidemic.

Recent data indicates that up to five Mainers die weekly as a result of heroin and opioid overdoses and that over 1,000 drug-affected babies were born in Maine in 2015.

The fact that more than 100 people have walked into the police station over the past three months to ask for help says a lot about the severity of the problem.

While Operation HOPE has helped bring treatment to Mainers in need, long-term solutions need to be found. We continue to work with policymakers and elected officials to increase treatment capacity and provide access for Mainers suffering substance use disorder. I am confident positive change is possible.

As we tell the Operation HOPE story to politicians and government officials, they are recognizing the need for increased programs and resources.

We are confident that they will see beyond politics and ideology to come up with real solutions to help save our fellow Mainers.

In the meantime, the Scarborough Police Department is helping other law enforcement agencies in Maine and across the country launch similar programs.

“We are pleased and humbled that other police agencies are getting involved in this important work and using Operation HOPE as a model for similar programs,” said Chief Moulton.

Scarborough Police Department Operation HOPE is being pursued in partnership with the Portland Recovery Community Center (www.portlandrecovery.org) and the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative (www.paarisusa.org). The program is based upon a similar effort undertaken by the Gloucester, Massachusetts, Police Department.

Operation HOPE is one component of the Scarborough Police Department’s three-prong strategy to address the drug problem by focusing on enforcement, education and treatment.

For more information, visit www.operationhopemaine.org.

For more information on the Scarborough Police Department’s Operation HOPE, call 883-6361 or email jgill@ ci.scarborough.me.us.

John Gill is an officer with Scarborough Police and Operation HOPE coordinator.

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