JERSEY CITY, NJ -- Seeking to be part of the statewide effort to combat the opioid academic plaguing the community, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez launched “Operation Helping Hand,” an initiative that will link narcotics users with recovery services at the time of arrest, Tuesday.
Offering a view of how the program will work Suarez reflected in a statement that on during the early morning hours of Friday approximately two dozen officers from the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office and the Jersey City Police Department targeted multiple areas of Jersey City arresting eight individuals who they observed purchasing narcotics (heroin) through hand-to-hand transactions.
After being transported to the Prosecutor’s Office where they were processed, Suarez said, they met with addiction recovery specialists and case managers from the RWJBarnabas Health Institute for Prevention and Recovery. Additional support was provided by Jersey City Medical Center Emergency Medical Services.
Of the eight, six received services from the Institute for Prevention and Recovery, one agreed to enter an immediate detox treatment program at the Hudson County Correctional Center and one was transported directly to the Jersey City Police Department due to an outstanding warrant.
This is the first of several operations planned for municipalities in Hudson County, Suarez said.
“Working together with our social services partners and recovery professionals, law enforcement can serve as a bridge between addiction and recovery,” Suarez suggested. “If we can save even one life, we have made an impact, but we believe this program will save many lives and help countless others rebuild for a positive future.”
The individuals, a statement clairfied, will still face the criminal charges, but, by volunteering for recovery support they have the opportunity to enter Drug Court and if they successfully complete treatment have the potential to see their current and past drug charges expunged.
Lynn Seaward, Assistant Director of the Institute for Prevention and Recovery, noted that the results of their intervention through work with law enforcement have been successful, including that 80 percent of those individuals utilizing their services have found employment within the first ninety days.
The one individual who entered detox following Friday’s operation, was emotional and grateful for the support, Seaward revealed, saying “his prayers had been answered” and calling the day “the best day of his life.”
“We have seen so much success this year with people turning their lives around, securing housing and new jobs,” Seaward said. “For them, having the support and having someone to walk with them hand-in-hand through the process has made all the difference.”
“Jersey City Medical Center is committed to transforming our community‟s health beyond the walls of our hospital,” said Michael Prilutsky, President and CEO, Jersey City Medical Center. “This includes addressing social factors that affect health. We will continue to remain actively engaged with our community partners in making a difference on critical issues.”
“We want to thank all of our partners who collaborated with us on this initial round of “Operation Helping Hand‟ and look forward to expanding it throughout Hudson County in the coming weeks and months,” Suarez added.
“We applaud the launch of Hudson County‟s first Operation Helping Hand initiative and the lives it has touched,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, who awarded the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office with a $100,000 to launch the program. “We look forward to the program’s continued success. Each individual provided a pathway to recovery brings us one step closer to defeating the opioid epidemic.”
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