OCEAN COUNTY – A video highlighting the county’s Blue HART program made its debut at the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Orlando, taking place Oct. 6-9.
The video was produced by IACP TV, based in Alexandria, Virginia. It features Lacey Police Chief Michael DiBella, Brick Police Chief James Riccio, Manchester Police Chief Lisa Parker and others.
The Blue HART program—Heroin Addiction Response Team—is the brainchild of outgoing Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato, and had its pilot run in Lacey, Brick, and Manchester townships. The program has since expanded and includes Ocean Gate, Little Egg Harbor, Stafford, and Point Pleasant Borough police departments.
To date, at least 500 persons have sought help through the program.
The program allows those needing treatment for opioid addiction to visit one of those local police departments on assigned days and be taken to a participating health care or treatment provider for help. A list of times can be found here. (Police have repeatedly assured the public that those seeking treatment will not be turned away, nor arrested, if they should up to a participating police department on a day they are not scheduled to receive Blue HART seekers.)
Outgoing prosecutor’s office spokesman Al Della Fave told Jersey Shore Online Sunday night it’s an exciting prospect that not only will the program be adopted by agencies around the country, but that the incoming Ocean County prosecutor, Bradley Billhimer, will continue to build upon the foundation his predecessor laid.
“Coronato is gone but his Blue HART initiative will hopefully live on,” Della Fave said in an Oct. 7 email.