LONGMONT, Colo. -- Longmont Police are trying something never done in the state to deal with a growing drug addiction problem in the city.
The agency announced this week that it will become the first in the state to offer the ANGEL initiative.
The initiative partners with The Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative (PAARI) to offer offenders admitting to drug addiction help from volunteers and local treatment centers instead of possible jail time.
“There's a lot of crime in our community that's associated with drug use,” said Deputy Chief Jeff Satur, with the Longmont Police Department.
The department is asking for volunteers to serve as “angels” who would work on an on-call basis and help anyone coming into the police department asking for help with drug addiction. Police would then guide the person to a local treatment center willing to act as a resource.
“You can't always arrest your way out of problems,” said Satur, ”you have to look at other alternatives.”
Michelle Ryan leads the Behavioral Health Group in Longmont. She was at one of the first centers, which helps people battling an opioid addiction, to volunteer as a resource for the program.
“It's something that we need desperately in our community,” said Ryan.
Ryan said their intake has grown by 40 percent since last year. She hopes the program will provide others with the guidance to get the help they need.
“I think that to continue to incarcerate a person that is addicted is not helpful,” she said.
Saltur said anyone can volunteer.
Volunteers just need to fill out an application on the department’s website and then undergo a background check.
“Drug abuse, drug addiction, alcohol abuse is a community wide problem,” he said, “everybody needs to be a part of this.”