Court Diversion Program Starts In Berkeley

Photo by Jason Allentoff

  BERKELEY – A new process, the Ocean County Helping Hand Trident Program, will help those suffering from substance abuse disorders from being stuck in the criminal justice system.

  “The goal of Trident is to divert individuals living with, or at risk for, substance use disorder from municipal court into treatment,” Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said. “The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office has been working in conjunction with several agencies to assist those individuals with the navigation of the treatment process in Toms River and now we are excited to be able to reach out to those struggling with addiction in Berkeley.”

  The way it works is that municipal court staff are available to identify defendants who are in need of services. This staff includes a licensed clinician, a case manager and a certified peer recovery specialist provided by Ocean Mental Health Services located in Berkeley Township.

  Law enforcement has been looking at different methods to handle the opioid epidemic. While still enforcing the law and investigating dealers, they have been working to help those struggling with addiction. In this case, preventative measures could keep an individual from having more serious issues in the future.

  “Trident is a collaborative program. By working together we can identify, engage and connect members of our community suffering with substance use disorders with the services they need in order to live happy, healthy, and productive lives. This three-prong approach is effective in reaching those who have been struggling for years but also for those individuals who may have never been diagnosed or linked with services before. Recovery from substance use disorder is possible and Trident gives people resources and best of all – hope,” Billhimer said.

  It is a municipal court diversion program led by the Prosecutor’s Office. It is made possible via grant funding through the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General via Operation Helping Hand.

  “Trident has access to a mobile support vehicle, which provides a discreet environment for individuals to be assessed and linked with care. Whether in the courtroom or in an alternate or virtual environment to maintain COVID restriction compliance, Trident gives individuals the tools they need to battle addiction,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.

  Prosecutor Billhimer thanked the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Special Offenders Unit, Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Renee White, Toms River Municipal Court, Berkeley Township Municipal Court and Ocean Mental Health Services for their collaborative efforts relative to Trident’s success and for working tirelessly to ensure that defendants facing municipal charges are given the opportunity to access treatment vital to their recovery.