Troy police offer Hope Not Handcuffs to battle addiction

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published February 28, 2018

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TROY — People fighting drug or alcohol addiction can get help and support anytime by walking into the Troy Police Department. 

Troy police have teamed up with Families Against Narcotics to offer the Hope Not Handcuffs program. People seeking help for an addiction can speak to police immediately and then to one of the 200 volunteer “angels” who help find immediate treatment options for people seeking help to reduce dependency on any substance, including heroin, prescription drugs and alcohol. 

There are exceptions that may make someone ineligible for the program — having a felony or domestic violence warrant, being a danger to others, being under 18 without a parent or guardian’s consent, and having a medical condition that may require hospitalization. 

Families Against Narcotics started Hope Not Handcuffs a year ago. Over 40 police departments in Michigan participate, including Ferndale and Holly in Oakland County; and Sterling Heights, Warren, Shelby Township, St. Clair Shores and Fraser in Macomb County. The program has connected more than 900 participants with resources to battle addiction. 

Troy Police Department Lt. Josh Jones explained that last fall, Troy police met with 52-4 District Court Judges Kirsten Nielsen Hartig and Maureen McGinnis and representatives from Families Against Narcotics at the courthouse to learn about the program. 

“They had really good success,” Jones said. “They have pretty impressive numbers. They personalize the treatment to the addiction and person so it’s a success.” 

“The police station gives volunteers a safe place to meet and for those who need help,” Jones said. “We will welcome them in so they feel safe.” 

He noted that the volunteer angels have experience and training in resources available, and they will work with all insurances and with those who do not have insurance, with the aim of getting the person into a facility that same day. 

“We like to try to be as progressive as we can and use best practices of other law enforcement officers,” Jones said. 

Former marketing executive Katie Donovan, executive vice president of Families Against Narcotics, said the group modeled Hope Not Handcuffs on a successful program that the police chief in Gloucester, Massachusetts, founded 2 1/2 years ago. 

According to its website, Families Against Narcotics “is a community-based program for those seeking recovery, those in recovery and family members affected by addiction.”

“The chief said he was tired of arresting people over and over for the same crimes and said, ‘I want you to come to the police station and ask for help,’” said Donovan.

“We (at Families Against Narcotics) approached law enforcement with the idea,” Donovan said. “At first there was some hesitation. It’s a totally different mindset.” 

She said Boston University did a study of the Gloucester Angel Initiative and found that it was successful. 

“We wanted to create a program bringing the community together,” Donovan said. “We can’t operate in silos. We have to come up with grass-roots ideas.”

She noted that 174 people per day in the U.S. die from overdoses. 

“If you compare it to a plane crash and it was happening every day, we’d think, ‘We have to fix this,’” she said. 

“We’re so grateful to law enforcement officers stepping up and thinking outside the box. We don’t just stop at inpatient treatment. We follow up and consider you a part of the Hope Not Handcuffs family. We work with the families as well.” 

Donovan’s daughter has battled addiction since she was 17. Donovan became involved with Families Against Narcotics 11 years ago, when she sought it out for support. 

“I didn’t want to tell anyone. I was the Brownie (Scout) and PTA mom,” she said. “This can truly happen to truly anyone.” 

She said her daughter’s recovery has had its ups and downs. Donovan now works as a recovery coach for Families Against Narcotics. 

Donovan said she started a blog, amothersaddictionjourney.com/blog-3, to share her story just over a year ago. 

“Within 30 days, I had over 1 million hits in 146 countries. It showed me such a need for people to be connected.” 

“We saw an opportunity to provide a really good resource with a very successful program,” Jones said. “There’s no reason we wouldn’t want to do that.” 

For more information about Families Against Narcotics and Hope Not Handcuffs, visit www.families againstnarcotics.org/hope nothandcuffs.

The Troy Police Department is located at 500 W. Big Beaver Road.