Upper Darby Police Superintendent Mike Chitwood has seen how when administer, that Narcan can save the lives of heroin addicts. He has shared story after story of how police officers who armed with Narcan have brought a person back from the brink of death to getting up and walking about. Chitwood has always had the same question after a save, “now what?” Wednesday morning Upper Darby Township has answered that call and come up with a program that can help those in need who want help to kick their addiction.
Wednesday, Mayor Tom Micozzie and Superintendent Chitwood announced a new program called. “Change is Possible.” Upper Darby Police Superintendent Mike Chitwood said that the program allows drug users who come to the police station voluntarily will be received help with “no questions, no concerns.” The program will run between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday at police headquarters, which is located at 7236 West Chester Pike.
Mayor Micozzie announced that the program is being conducted with Gaudenzia, a non-profit addiction treatment center. Michael Harle, president and CEO of Gaudenzia, said Wednesday that the program is unprecedented for the region. Harle also said that “what we want to do is get people early,” Continuing he said that “If we wait until after they go into a penitentiary or after they have overdosed four or five times, it’s not as easy.” Mayor Micozzie said his administration has been in talks with Gaudenzia since November. “The No. 1 war in America right now is drug addiction. We’re killing the fiber of our community,” said Micozzie, acknowledging the issues impact the youth, as well as middle-aged accountants and housewives.”
There are restrictions on the program Chitwood said. The restrictions are that no person who seeks help at police headquarters can have an open court case, can he or she be on probation or parole. Chitwood also said of those who want help that arrest-strategy still stands. “If you’re in possession of drugs” while in public, Chitwood said, “you’re going to be locked up.” But if drug users come to police headquarters voluntarily, he said, “we’re here to help.”
Last year, he said, Upper Darby recorded 200 overdoses. Of those overdoses 123 were heroin related. Upper Darby police officers have saved 54 people from heroin overdoses with the antidote Narcan.