The opioid crisis has ravaged many towns throughout the Northeast region, and Cheshire is no different.
At a meeting of the Town Council held last September, Chesprocott Health District presented a rather staggering statistic — within the first six months of 2019, 20 doses of the overdose reversal drug Narcan were administered within the Cheshire community.
In an effort to combat this epidemic, the Cheshire Police Department (CPD) and the Youth and Human Services Department are looking to implement a new initiative — the HOPE Program — and an opioid treatment agreement with the Hospital at Central Connecticut (HCC).
At the Council meeting on Jan. 14, Cheshire Police Chief Neil Dryfe introduced the program to members, and received unanimous approval for the indemnification clause for the program.
“The HOPE Program has really taken off in other municipalities over the past few years,” Dryfe explained. “It is a program with opportunity to take someone asking for help and transport them to a hospital emergency room for the in-take process. This is the extent of our involvement.”
The HOPE Program allows for anyone who is struggling with an addiction to present themselves to a CPD officer and ask for help. The CPD officer will then provide transportation to the nearest hospital where a nurse will be waiting to take the patient, no questions asked.
“The (Cheshire) Police Department is currently developing the (process) required to implement this program,” stated Michelle Piccerillo, Human Services director. “Each community has the ability to create their own policies and it’s likely to be finished by the end of the month.”
Every police officer in the CPD will receive training for the Hope Program, according to Piccerillo. Some of the hospitals in the area that are affiliated to the program include Midstate Medical Center and Hartford Hospital.
During Dryfe’s presentation to the Council regarding Hope, Councilor Paul Bowman others raised questions regarding the logistics of the program.
“If someone were to have an outstanding warrant, but also had an addiction issue, how would they be dealt with?” Bowman asked Dryfe.
“In (that) instance, an arrest warrant would still need to be served,” he answered. “We would still follow the standard procedures, but we would also make the offer of taking them to get treatment, if it's necessary.”
Councilor Tim Slocum then asked Dryfe how officers will handle situations where individuals have not asked for help but are showing obvious signs of needing assistance.
“If an officer is called to a scene and they see that someone is clearly in distress or in crisis, how would they handle the situation?” he inquired.
“There are potentially two situations which an officer may come in contact with,” Dryfe explained. “If an officer is called to a situation where someone is overdosing or is in a medical crisis, obviously we would then transport that person to the hospital. In this instance the officer can explain the program to them. The other situation would be if an officer was called to a scene where someone is in possession of a personal use amount of an opioid, the program would be explained to them and they would offer the transportation as well.”
For more information regarding the HOPE Program contact the Cheshire Police Department’s non-emergency number, (203) 271-5500.