BURRILLVILLE – A state initiative launched in 2018 to address the opioid epidemic has now come to Burrillville, arming local enforcement with a new proactive outreach strategy to combat addiction.
The “HOPE” initiative, or Heroin-Opioid Prevention Effort, is coordinated by the Rhode Island State Police, in partnership with the Governor’s Task Force on Opioid Prevention and Intervention, the Department of Health, the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
Col. Stephen Lynch noted that Burrillville has had two opioid deaths since the start of the year, and the state program will supplement his department’s ongoing response efforts.
“They have brought us in for a variety of reasons,” said Lynch. “One is that we do have a problem here in Burrillville.”
The initiative aims to bring law enforcement officers and substance abuse professionals together to make sure those who are struggling with addiction receive the help they need.
Lynch noted that HOPE will augment the Burrillville Addiction Assistant Program, through which the BPD typically responds to homes throughout town days after an overdose incident to offer assistance to the impacted party.
“The HOPE Initiative will expand these types of responses, as it will alert us to overdose incidents that take place outside Burrillville involving Burrillville residents,” said Lynch. “They become aware through a variety of sources that there is someone struggling with addiction.”
The program, funded through state and federal grants, offers training for law enforcement professionals, and helps them to partner with clinicians and recovery coaches in their communities to reach out to individuals considered to be at-risk for an opioid overdose. Officers themselves visit residents at their homes to try to get them into treatment.
Burrillville police Lt. William Lacey, and Offs. Jennifer Baker and Geoffrey Cicatiello recently completed the state police training.
And this month, the BPD has its first engagements through HOPE. Baker made five stops to reach out to locals struggling with addiction. Two of the homes, Lynch noted, were outside of town in a neighboring community not currently active with the program.
It’s another tool in the town’s arsenal of methods to combat the epidemic. BAAP, and a sister program aimed at addressing youth, the Burrillville Prevention Action Coalition, were launched in January 2018 with the help of town funding.
Lynch noted the town’s first HOPE-sponsored response fell in between two opioid deaths.
Twenty one Rhode Island law enforcement agencies completed the training in October, bringing the total to 31 out of 39 agencies statewide.