PORTAGE — Even if it only saves one life, the effort will be worth it, Police Chief Troy Williams said.
The effort to get addicts the help they need was bolstered this week when Williams announced his department would become the sixth in the state, and the first in Porter County, to join the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative.
If someone is battling addiction and wants help, they can come to the police department, Williams said. Officers will — without threat of arrest or interrogation — initiate the recovery process immediately by contacting one of its partners to get help for the addict.
Portage joins the Griffith, Highland, Schererville, LaPorte, LaPorte County and Michigan City police departments in the effort.
"We are not going to arrest our way out of this problem," Williams said.
"If someone comes into the Portage Police Department seeking help with their addiction, they will not be arrested, even if they are also turning over their drugs or paraphernalia. Additionally, they will not be questioned about the source of their drugs or paraphernalia. This initiative allows law enforcement to intervene and initiate the recovery process immediately."
The department has partnered with Heartland Recovery Center in Lowell, Edgewater Health’s Rapid Access Center in Gary, Recovery Works in Merrillville and Porter-Starke Services, of Valparaiso, to provide services, Williams said.
If someone goes to the Police Station, they will meet with an officer who will assess them to determine if they need immediate medical attention and then obtain some basic information to help find the right program, Williams said. Even if the person does not have insurance, there are treatment options available, he added.
Transportation to a treatment facility likely will be done by a family member, but if that is not an option the department or volunteers selected by the department will assist.
"Another level of this program is when our officers respond to an overdose we will leave information with that person/family if they choose to seek assistance after they recover," Williams said. "The Portage Police Department wants to be doing everything it can to help those affected by addiction find their path to recovery, which will ultimately save on other resources and reduce crime."