STAFFORD – After extensive planning by Stafford Police Chief Thomas Dellane, the Stafford Township Police Department will now join Brick Police and Manchester Police by joining an important program in the fight against the state opioid epidemic and rising drug use.
Formerly known as HARP, which stands for Heroin Addiction Response Program, the program has also been renamed to “Blue HART,” which translates to Blue Heroin Addiction Recovery & Treatment Program.
The initiative began in early January and was the first of its kind in the state, which allows substance abusers to turn themselves and their drugs in at any of the now three participating police headquarters without the consequence of charges or jail, as long as they are willing to submit to addiction treatment.
Stafford Police is teamed up with Ocean Mental Health in Manahawkin and Bayville to provide addiction treatment services to participants in the program. Brick Police works with Preferred Behavioral Health in Lakewood and Manchester Police works with Integrity House in Toms River.
The goal of the Blue HART program is to reduce the influence of heroin and opiate abuse in the community. Although the program is designed for addicted individuals to voluntarily show up to police headquarters and request help, any officer who encounters a person in the community who they believe would benefit from the Blue HART program has the authority to bring that individual into police headquarters, provided they agree to the voluntary screening process.
In a statement, Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said, “To date, Brick and Manchester Police Departments have accounted for over 160 participants accepted into the program thanks to the generous commitment of Behavioral Health and Integrity House. Bringing the partnership of Stafford PD and Ocean Mental Health into the program is a great step in expanding options to those in Ocean County seeking addiction help.”