MONTVILLE, NJ –  The Montville Township Police Department has become a drop-in center for people who are struggling with drug addiction and need guidance and support in accessing help.

Starting Dec. 16, the department became the 13th agency to become a part of PAARI in Morris County, which stands for police assisted addiction and recovery initiative. PAARI is a program designed to give individuals with substance abuse disorders a safe way to seek help for their addiction, by coming to the Montville Twp. Police Dept., where an officer will screen the individual and help them obtain treatment and recovery services through Daytop New Jersey as necessary.

Police Chief Andrew Caggiano was on the PAARI launch advisory group, which met in February to develop policies and coordinate the county rollout of the program through the Morris County Sheriff’s Office.

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PAARI began in Massachusetts in 2015 as a constructive alternative to incarceration for people battling substance abuse and about 430 law enforcement agencies in 33 states have signed on, according to the Sheriff’s Office, which opened its doors in April 2019 as a PAARI site.

“The Morris County Sheriff’s Office is committed to a guardian role of supporting people caught in the destructive trap of addiction,” Morris County Sheriff James Gannon said.

Law enforcement has long battled crime resulting from addiction, and stemming addiction will help to not only prevent opioid deaths but also reduce that crime, Gannon has said in the past, as the problem will not be stopped with arrests.

“With opioid and heroin addiction consuming the lives of family members, neighbors, classmates and friends, and often leading them to break the law to finance their addictions, we all have a stake as human beings to try to stop the scourge,” Gannon said.

Under the PAARI program, a walk-in service available 8-5 p.m. Mon-Fri, individuals seeking assistance for substance use dependency can walk into the police department and state their request for help. In a compassionate and discreet way, individuals will be directed to a PAARI-trained police officer who will screen them. Based upon the screening, individuals will be connected with peer recovery specialists from Daytop, who will meet with them to discuss treatment and resource options. Daytop is a premier substance use facility based in Mendham and the Sheriff’s Office’s partner in providing peer recovery specialists, according to a release from the Sheriff’s Office.

Other resources available to try to help individuals find recovery include those offered by Morris County Center for Addiction Recovery Services (CARES). When police or the Montville First Aid Squad use Narcan™ to try to save the life of someone who has overdosed on an opiate, a CARES peer recovery specialist comes to the patient’s bedside in the hospital to offer counseling services. This policy was enacted in Montville in 2017, according to Caggiano.

Gannon’s initiative, the Hope One mobile recovery unit, travels to communities in Morris County twice a week to offer resources to those with substance abuse problems and to train and offer Narcan to individuals and their loved ones, has saved 32 lives since its inception, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

In 2016, Montville had eight opiate overdoses, but in 2019 only three had occurred, although there had been 75 drug arrests in 2019, according to Caggiano.

“We also have a medicine return box, a green-colored box in the lobby of the police department,” Caggiano said. “Anyone can come in and place medication in the box 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All medications that are collected are later destroyed. This is a safe way to get rid of unused or extra medication in your home.” Keeping unused medications out of the household is another way to help keep pills out of addicts’ hands.

At a presentation at MTHS, Morris County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Brad Seabury described “pharming parties,” at which attendees bring pills from their parents’ medicine cabinets to share, and real estate open houses, at which addicts posing as potential home buyers search medicine cabinets for opiates, as sources of pills. Using the pill drop-off box at the police department could help stem a source of medication.

The Montville Township Police Department is located at 360 Main Rd. in Montville.

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