Members of Impact100 Oakland County, Families Against Narcotics and the Troy Police Department came together April 27 to announce the formation of a Comeback Quick Response Team at the Troy Police Department.

Members of Impact100 Oakland County, Families Against Narcotics and the Troy Police Department came together April 27 to announce the formation of a Comeback Quick Response Team at the Troy Police Department.

Photo by Jonathan Shead


Troy police partner with Families Against Narcotics for overdose response team

By: Jonathan Shead | Troy Times | Published May 5, 2021

 Families Against Narcotics Executive Director Linda Davis speaks during a press conference April 27.

Families Against Narcotics Executive Director Linda Davis speaks during a press conference April 27.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

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TROY — A new partnership initiative between the Troy Police Department and Families Against Narcotics was announced April 27 to help compassionately combat the opioid epidemic and those dealing with substance use disorder or opioid use disorder.

The new Comeback Quick Response Team in Troy was funded by a one-time $8,500 grant from Impact100 Oakland County, a group of women who come together to raise money for local organizations and causes.

The Troy Police Department is the 15th law enforcement agency in the state and the fourth in Oakland County to begin a Quick Response Team initiative. Troy police join Berkley, Ferndale and Madison Heights, as well as some departments in Macomb County.

“As first responders, we respond to calls of an overdose. We’re about to deliver Narcan and provide life-saving opportunities, (and) get that individual to a hospital, but usually that contact ends there,” Troy Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Jason Clark said. “Unless it’s in a criminal setting and we’re arresting that individual for a crime connected to addiction, we don’t get that opportunity to return. This program allows that.”

The Quick Response Team will act as an “overdose wellness check,” Lt. Josh Jones explained, and the team will respond to calls of an overdose within 72 hours to start providing them with additional resources and addiction care.

The Quick Response Team is made up of a Troy police officer from the community services section, a family recovery coach, and a peer recovery coach. Clark said the department currently has five officers trained for the program.

“If we see a need, where we need more (because) we can’t facilitate with our five going out on a monthly basis, we’re going to have to get more, absolutely,” he said. “Sterling Heights increased their team. They saw a need. If we see a need, absolutely. We’ll double it and get five more.”

 

A familiar story
With 65 calls for service for an overdose in 2020 and 21 calls for an overdose since Jan. 1, 2021, Clark said the issue has been a recurring theme in the community, and oftentimes with the same individuals.

“Just this week, our midnight shift responded to an overdose and revived an unconscious patient using Narcan. This is the second overdose by this resident this year and the second time first responders administered Narcan to save the same individual. This resident also served a jail sentence this year for previous crimes,” Clark said. “Obviously, incarceration is not the answer and does not provide the necessary assistance to a person with substance use disorder. Narcan helps us save lives, but is not the long-term fix we need for individuals facing addiction.”

Families Against Narcotics Executive Director Linda Davis said that in just the last month, through FAN’s initiative, they have visited 24 homes and provided accessible treatment to 16 families.

“That may not sound like large numbers to you, but that’s 24 families who would have been without services without this program,” Davis said. “That’s what we have to do with substance use problems. We have to realize that every individual is a potential death, and every individual deserves to have that warm handoff into treatment and have this treated like a disease, not a moral failing.”

 

Changing the conversation
Davis thinks the biggest obstacles currently in the way of better care and resources for substance use disorder are community perception and a lack of proper funding.

“If we can begin to change the idea of what addiction is all about, we’ve made huge strides toward addressing addiction. Once the community starts really seeing it as a disease, rather than a moral failing, then the dollars will be there to treat it just like there is cancer or diabetes.”

She believes the attention that needs to be paid to the opioid epidemic should be the same as has been done recently in response to COVID-19.

“When COVID hit, we ignited programs overnight,” she said. “We addressed that program immediately, and that should have happened. It was a serious problem, and we needed to prevent the deaths of our American citizens. We have been battling substance use disorder for a very long time, and that urgency is not there.”

Some headway has been made, Davis acknowledged, but she said we’re “still a long way from having a perfect system.”

To get to a more perfect system with the resources and funding needed, Davis said, local programs like these with law enforcement agencies are a start.

“There’s no warm handoff. There’s no continuum of care that happens over a period of time. We send you to treatment. You come back out, and go right back into the same environment while we waste millions of dollars every year on that kind of protocol. Programs like this begin to connect the dots,” she said. “Programs like this, to me, are where we should be spending big bucks to make sure there’s a continuum of care for people, that it’s not one and done.”

The program is meant to be preventative as much as in response to overdoses, Davis added.

“You don’t need to wait for an overdose to occur. You can call this police department and they’ll call us, or you can call Families Against Narcotics and we will begin this process for you. We don’t want to see anybody die. We want to be preventive and we want to catch you before you’re ever in that position where your life is at risk.”

 

Building resources, breaking stigmas
With 15 partnering police departments, Davis said she hopes to expand the program even further, to every place that has a FAN chapter at least. Her organization uses heat maps to determine which communities are in need of this program the most.

“Now we use heat maps in the state of Michigan to look at where the largest number of overdoses are occurring, and we try to target those particular areas so that we’re really serving the largest number of people with the dollars we get. This grant had to be used in Oakland County, so we looked at the police departments that we’re experiencing larger overdoses, like Troy,” Davis said.

“We want to make sure we catch those people and they’re diverted into treatment. Otherwise, it’s just a drain on the economy to constantly have these people in the system for them.”

Jones believes the program will see the same successes the Sterling Heights Police Department has seen. “I have full confidence that our community will benefit as much as Sterling Heights did, and as much as the 15 other (departments) in Michigan who have launched this program.”

As more law enforcement agencies get involved, Davis said it will help shift away from the stigmas associated with substance use and create a new conversation.

“I think when people who are normally accustomed to arresting individuals then become part of the solution and are treating these people with respect and kindness and being the conduit to get them help, the message they’re sending is these are sick people that can be helped,” she said. “That’s breaking down stigma, when we start treating people differently than we did yesterday. … Everybody deserves that second chance.”

For more information, visit familiesagainstnarcotics.org.

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