Town of Campbell, Holmen PDs look at drug recovery pilot program

Pilot program to offer low-level crime drug users alternative to jail

The town of Campbell and Holmen police departments are teaming up to create a pilot program in which drug users can choose recovery assistance instead of jail time.

The program, modeled after others in the nation, will allow low-level offenders who commit crimes to support their drug habit to turn themselves in for treatment or accept it after being arrested. If they complete the recovery program, criminal charges against them would be dropped.

Town of Campbell Police Chief Drew Gavrilos said there is no “arresting away” the problem.

“It’s a chronic health issue. It’s never going to be addressed or cured by just putting somebody in jail,” he said. “The treatment option…is the biggest piece to break the cycle.”

They come up with the plan to create the pilot program after heroin issues increased in the area.

“More people are turning to using heroin and it’s cheap and it’s accessible and available, so I think we also have seen an increase because of that in property crimes,” said Heroin and Other Illicit Drugs Task Force Coordinator Al Bliss.

Gavrilos said the low-level crimes like burglary could go down if the drug users get the assistance they need, and it’s important that they get the help for their health and the health of the communities.

“It’s important as well in their own personal lives so they can maintain a job or further their education, and this is something that’s really important for communities,” said Bliss.

Gavrilos said although assisting drug users recovery is a new role for police to take on, it is a fitting one.

“People ask, ‘Why is this from the police?'” he said. “Well, we’re the first ones to respond. We’re the ones that are going to encounter them in an overdose event and when they’re out committing crimes, so we’re the first line of defense. If we can take more of an active role in it, hopefully we can help get the ball rolling and get them going in the right direction.”

The program is still in an early phase of planning, and both the town of Campbell and Holmen are currently collecting data and determining funding options.