Gloucester Police Chief Lenny Campanello drew national attention when he
announced that instead of charging drug addicts, he would offer them rehabilitation.
Lenny Campanello may be on to something. The Gloucester, Massachusetts
police chief wrote a Facebook post announcing that addicts who find their
way into the station, whether voluntarily or after an arrest, would not
be charged with a crime. Instead, they would be welcomed with open arms
and ushered into a rehabilitation program, a shocking shift in the way
Part of what was so revolutionary about Campanello’s announcement
was that he used the word “disease” to describe drug addiction.
The details of the detox and rehabilitation plan, which will go into effect
on June 1, are still being worked out, but the announcement alone was
enough to warrant over two million views.
Some people are skeptical that any drug user would voluntarily walk into
the police department and turn in their drugs and paraphernalia, unless
possibly they were accompanied by a friend or family member. Still, the
program offers hope to a community that has been inundated with drug overdose
deaths in recent years. The 30,000-resident community of Gloucester experienced
four overdose deaths in the first three months of 2015.
Whether the plan works or not, Campanello says he is just glad there is
attention on the
epidemic, which is actually how many Gloucester residents refer to it. Some say
it is difficult to walk down the street without seeing a single person
who hasn’t been affected in some way by the opiate problem. “People
die every day here,” said one Gloucester resident.
Gloucester is also revolutionary in terms of combatting drug addiction
for another reason – it was the first city in the United States
to equip both its fire and police departments with Narcan, an opiate-antidote
that comes in the form of a nasal spray. Narcan is the brand-name of the
prescription drug Naloxone, an option that has been considered to combat the drug problem in Ohio as well.
This small Massachusetts city is on the right track. We may very well be
better off lowering drug crime rates through rehabilitation than we are
by using incarceration. Koffel Brininger Nesbitt is an advocate for alternative
treatment options and specialty drug courts for offenders. Contact our
Columbus criminal defense law firm today if you or someone you love has
been arrested for a drug-related offense.