Police team up to provide help for people with drug use issues

Law enforcement officials in Grayling and Gaylord to work with Families Against Narcotics through Quick Response Team to offer treatment options
Area law enforcement agencies – including the City of Grayling Police Department and the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department – are teaming up with Families Against Narcotics to provide Quick Response Team resources to help people dealing with drug use issues in Crawford County and Otsego County.
Officials from both the City of Grayling Police Department and the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department have said recently that drug use and incidents caused by drug use – including thefts, overdoses, domestic violence, and impaired driving – are among their biggest challenges right now, and methamphetamine – due to its availability and its effects on the user – is an especially serious problem right now for area law enforcement officers.
(“Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Long-term methamphetamine abuse has many negative consequences, including addiction. People who use methamphetamine long term may exhibit symptoms that can include significant anxiety, confusion, insomnia, mood disturbances, and violent behavior. They also may display a number of psychotic features, including paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.)
Ryan Swope, Crawford County Sheriff’s Department Undersheriff, said deputies are encountering meth-related issues “on a daily basis.”
“Meth is definitely our most reoccurring drug that we’re seeing currently,” Undersheriff Swope said.
Amanda Clough, City of Grayling Deputy Police Chief, said drug arrests for the City of Grayling Police Department “were up 57 percent from 2019 to 2020,” and that doesn’t include other incidents such as assaults that may be drug-related.
“We do have a significant problem in our area,” Deputy Police Chief Clough said.
Law enforcement officials are hoping programs like the Quick Response Team and Hope Not Handcuffs will assist in getting people help with drug use issues. Hope Not Handcuffs – another Families Against Narcotics initiative – offers people the opportunity to go to participating law enforcement departments to seek treatment, and through trained helpers called “angels,” make arrangements to be transported to a treatment facility.
“I’m hoping by implementing these services, by getting people help, it’ll decrease those types of calls so our resources can be used elsewhere,” Deputy Police Chief Clough said.
The Quick Response Team allows law enforcement officials to visit the homes of those who have overdosed and offer treatment help.
“This new initiative is a compassionate way to assist individuals struggling with addiction as a result of either Substance Use Disorder or Opioid Use Disorder. The Quick Response Team is a three-member unit consisting of a police officer, certified peer recovery coach, and certified family recovery coach. Within 72 hours of a non-fatal drug overdose, this team visits the home where a first responder previously assisted with the life-threatening event,” according to Families Against Narcotics. “The team’s objective is to make contact with the individual who overdosed, as well as their family. The team will offer compassionate support, information, and assistance in obtaining recovery services, in addition to connecting the individual and family with community resources.”
In Crawford County, the Sheriff’s Department and the City of Grayling Police Department are collaborating to provide one person for the three-member Quick Response Team. On some days, the team’s “police officer” will be a Sheriff’s Department deputy and on other days it will be a City of Grayling Police Department officer, Undersheriff Swope said.
“We will go to the residences where individuals have overdosed or we know are having issues with substance abuse and we will provide them with an appointment to go to treatment if they are willing,” Undersheriff Swope said. “If the person doesn’t want help we don’t push the issue.”
Undersheriff Swope said the Quick Response Team “certified peer recovery coach” is “someone who has been clean for an extended period” after having a drug issue and the “certified family recovery coach” is a family member, possibly a parent, of someone who has had a problem with substance misuse. 
“It’s not just about the person who’s become drug dependent, it’s about the family,” Undersheriff Swope said.
Swope said officers working on the Quick Response Team will not be in their uniforms during visits; they will have special shirts. Participating officers will have received special training, according to police officials.
According to Families Against Narcotics, the Quick Response Team program “launched with the Sterling Heights Police Department in February of 2020 and has now expanded to Roseville, Ferndale, Waterford, Midland, Saginaw, Taylor, Allen Park, Berkley, and Madison Heights” with additions currently in the works at “Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, Grayling, Farmington Hills, Troy, Gaylord, and Otsego County Sheriff’s Office.”
“To date, the Quick Response Team program has made 650 home visits and offered resources and support to 403 families,” according to Families Against Narcotics.
Undersheriff Swope said recovery coaches for the Crawford County Quick Response Team will likely be from outside the area as the local program gets established and local people are recruited and trained to serve as coaches.
The Crawford County Sheriff’s Department, the City of Grayling Police Department, the Otsego County Sheriff’s Office, and the Gaylord Police Department conducted a press conference on Friday, March 19, at the Gaylord Police Department to announce that all four departments and Families Against Narcotics are partnering up for the Quick Response Team.
During the press conference, Linda Davis, Families Against Narcotics Executive Director, said statistics show that no matter how long addicts are jailed, whether it’s days or years, upon release they are very likely to relapse within 30 days if they have not received treatment for their substance misuse issue, so it’s important to “have a care system in place.”
Davis said only 10 percent of people with a substance use issue get treatment. Area law enforcement officials and representatives from Families Against Narcotics are hoping the new Quick Response Team program will help people to get help.
“We’re all implementing this together at the same time,” Undersheriff Swope said. “This is a very new program in the state of Michigan.”
Undersheriff Swope said Crawford County’s first scheduled date to offer support through the Quick Response Team is April 13.
“We’re going to start off trying to do it weekly,” Undersheriff Swope said.
Undersheriff Swope said the Quick Response Team and Hope Not Handcuffs give the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department new ways to offer support for people with drug use issues.
“We’ve never had anything like this,” Undersheriff Swope said.
“We are really grateful to be able to have this resource,” said Deputy Police Chief Clough. “What we’re doing now, putting people in jail, obviously isn’t helping.”
“Our police officers want to help be part of the solution to the drug epidemic, especially with our continued increase in drug offenses and the crimes committed in relation to drug use,” said Deputy Police Chief Clough.
Deputy Police Chief Clough said the Hope Not Handcuffs program allows for people with drug use issues to come to the police to seek help, and the Quick Response Team allows officers to go to the people to offer help.
“They basically go hand in hand,” Deputy Police Chief Clough said.
The local Hope Not Handcuffs program is still in the process of training “angels,” Clough said, but she expects the program to “be up and running about the same time as the Quick Response Team” in April.
If you are interested in volunteering to help with the Hope Not Handcuffs program, visit the www.familiesagainstnarcotics.org/hopenothandcuffs-angel website or email questions to hnh@familiesagainstnarcotics.org. The website has online registration links for  virtual training sessions.

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806
E-Mail: information@crawfordcountyavalanche.com

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