Opioid Epidemic

OxyContin pills.

Griffith police became the most recent Region agency to join a proactive effort for fighting drug addiction, and it should bear notice by other local police departments.

It's a welcome reaction to Northwest Indiana's opioid struggles, in particular, and it carries proactive overtones.

The department is not alone in its forward thinking.

Griffith, Schererville, LaPorte and Michigan City all have adopted policies of helping addicts, who seek help for addiction, find treatment without fear of arrest.

Griffith became the latest Region department to join forces with the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, or PAARI.

Since the initial program began in 2015 in Gloucester, Massachusetts, that city has seen its overdose death rate drop from about one a month to just two in two years, PAARI Executive Director Allie Hunter McDade told us recently.

The addiction-related crime rate in Gloucester also has fallen by 30 percent, McDade added.

As part of this partnership, Griffith police pledge they will help any addict seek treatment who calls or walks into the department asking for help. Such addicts will be linked with treatment programs within six to 12 hours of making such requests.

With a well-publicized opioid addiction epidemic in our state and Region, other Northwest Indiana departments should consider following suit.

In Griffith alone, seven people died of drug overdoses last year, and the police department responds to one or two overdoses per week, the police and Lake County coroner report.

Rather than just focusing on reactionary drug-related arrests, some departments are offing to serve as a conduit to a potential long-term solution for addicts.

"Just putting drug offenders into jail and releasing them isn't solving anything," said David Borgetti, a Griffith police officer who has responded to some of those drug-related calls.

We agree. Griffith and other Region departments should be congratulated for attempting to nip this problem in the bud — and hopefully save lives along the way.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editorial Page Editor Marc Chase, Editor Bob Heisse, Politics/History Editor Doug Ross and Managing Editor Erin Orr.