GLOUCESTER, MASS. — Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello is to be honored by President Barrack Obama as a “Champion of Change” this week at the White House for his role addressing the opioid epidemic and founding the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI).
In an unexpected move that took the nation by surprise, Campanello announced in June 2015 that if addicts showed up at the Gloucester police station, they would be offered help instead of handcuffs. “There’s no way we are going to arrest our way out of the addiction crisis in this country,” he said in an MSNBC feature on the original ANGEL initiative.
When he started the program last summer, Gloucester Police not only connected the addicted with treatment programs, he demanded that other entities step up to the plate, too. He took to Facebook posting the contact information of top pharmaceutical executives so the public might urge them to do something about pain medications that lead to addicition1. Pfizer reportedly called him to meet.
PAARI is a nonprofit organization “whose mission is to support the Gloucester Police addiction initiatives, to aid other police departments to implement similar programs and to foster a dialogue around the unique opportunity for police departments to take direct action against the disease of drug addiction in their communities,” according to the PAARI website.
By the end of the year, 44 police departments in 9 states and 57 treatment centers in 19 states joined the care coordination program. In January, PAARI partnered with the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans to further treatment after recovery for those in Massachusetts that come to participating police stations for help2.
Campanello says the effort does help to reduce overdoses and crime.