PEPPERELL — Chief David Scott is pleased to announce that the Pepperell Police Department participated in a community forum addressing the opioid crisis last night.
Chief Scott and Community Outreach Initiative Network (COIN) clinician Sarah Gagne joined members of NM Cares, Narcotics Anonymous and Trinity Ambulance Service at the forum, which was sponsored and hosted by Pepperell Christian Fellowship Church.
At the forum, Chief Scott and Gagne discussed their work developing and implementing the COIN program. COIN is a combined effort of 10 area police departments and Family Continuity, which employs Gagne and a group of recovery coaches and counselors.
When a police officer identifies a person in the community who is struggling with mental health or substance use issues, they refer that person to COIN, which initiates the process of connecting them to services.
Gagne and Chief Scott also highlighted the additional steps COIN has taken, including conducting home visits with those in need who may not be able to be connected to services over the phone. Work is also ongoing to create a drop-in center for those looking to seek help through COIN.
The panelists placed a heavy emphasis on the importance of eliminating the stigma associated with opioid addiction, as well as changing law enforcement’s role in addressing drug addiction.
“The police have done a great job showing these individuals that their core goal is to serve as a resource for those in need, rather than simply arresting people struggling with these issues,” said Gagne, who works with on location at the Pepperell police station two days a week. “They really care and want to help.”
The forum, which was attended by approximately 75 people, served as an opportunity for community leaders and residents to have an open discussion about the work that’s been done so far–and the work that still needs to be done–to curtail the opioid crisis.
“I’d like to thank the Pepperell Christian Fellowship Church for hosting this forum and confronting this issue in a compassionate and meaningful way,” Chief Scott said. “While the number of overdoses is slowly decreasing in Massachusetts, there’s still work to be done and we’re committed to helping as many people as possible.”
Anyone who is struggling with mental health issues or addiction–or knows somebody who is–should call COIN at 508-488-5072. Someone will call back within one business day.