Heroin (File Photo/ Dimitris Kalogeropoylos/ Flickr)
Heroin (File Photo/ Dimitris Kalogeropoylos/ Flickr)

Two additional police departments have joined a program to accept heroin addicts into treatment at their headquarters or even at the scene of an arrest.

The Blue HARP (Heroin Addiction Response Program) program started in Brick and Manchester earlier this year, and will now be expanded to Ocean Gate and Lacey to further combat the county’s heroin addiction crisis. The program is a partnership between the police departments, prosecutor’s office and Preferred Behavioral Health and Integrity House. Stafford Township also participates.

The program allows substance abusers to turn themselves and their product in at any of the five participating police headquarters in order to go to addiction services providers for treatment evaluation without any threat of charges or jail. The departments also have discretion to allow abusers into the program in the field.

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Ocean Gate and Lacey will officially declare their participation in the effort on Monday by collaborating with Ocean Mental Health in Manahawkin and Bayville. Lacey has been quietly introducing the program all summer, said Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.

Presently, Stafford PD is already aligned with Ocean Mental Health, Brick PD is partnered with Preferred Behavioral Health in Lakewood and Manchester PD works with Integrity House in Toms River. The expansion of the program now makes help available at Ocean Gate and Lacey PDs on Monday, Stafford PD on Tuesday, Manchester PD on Wednesday or Brick PD on Thursday for those seeking immediate critical help in fighting drug addiction.

“I applaud the participating police department’s proactive efforts and eagerness to help those in their communities fight this tragic epidemic,” said Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato, in a statement.

The premise of the program is simple: any person who voluntarily enters the three participating agencies and requests help with addiction to heroin or opiates, or any substance, will be immediately screened for potential participation in the program.  Though the program is primarily designed to apply to people who present themselves at the station, an officer who encounters a person outside the police station believing they would benefit from Blue HART has the  discretion, based upon their training and experience, to the bring an individual to the police station if the person consents to the voluntary screening process. The officer or shift supervisor, upon completion of the Blue HART screening process, provides transportation for the participant to the designated provider as soon as reasonably possible.

Over 200 addicts have participated in the program since it began in January.