TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Richard J. Codey and Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee chairman Joseph F. Vitale that would establish law enforcement-assisted addiction and recovery programs cleared the Senate Higher Education Committee today.
Under the bill (S-2330), the Director of the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services in the Department of Human Services would be required to establish, upon the request of a municipal or county police department, law enforcement assisted addiction and recovery programs in those departments throughout the state.
“The heroin and opiate addiction crisis is harrowing and raging in New Jersey,” said Senator Codey (D-Essex and Morris). “The addiction and recovery programs that would be established under this legislation will help those suffering get the treatment they need without fear of law enforcement action or arrest, which has often been perceived as a barrier.”
Under the bill, the director, in consultation with the Attorney General, would be required to:
a) prescribe by regulation requirements for county and municipal law enforcement departments to establish or authorize the operation of a program within their departments;
b) develop and implement guidelines for the recruitment and training of law enforcement officers, volunteers, and treatment providers to participate in the program;
c) support and facilitate the linkage of law enforcement assisted addiction and recovery programs to facilities and programs that provide appropriate substance abuse recovery services and health care services;
d) coordinate with law enforcement officials and program volunteers to ensure that individuals seeking to participate in the program are treated with respect, care, and compassion, and are reassured that assistance will be provided;
e) establish requirements for an individual to be eligible for participation in the program; and
f) develop and implement procedures for determining eligibility requirements for the program.
“The war on drugs approach does not work,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “An integrated approach that involves law enforcement, health care professionals, and mental health specialists working together is the best way forward to assist those who are suffering from the disease of addiction and substance abuse.”
In New Jersey, the overdose death rate related to heroin and opioid addiction is currently three times the national rate. In an effort to increase access to treatment for heroin and opioid addiction, certain law enforcement departments in New Jersey and in other jurisdictions have worked with community professionals and volunteers to provide additional support to those who need it. This bill would provide for the establishment of law enforcement assisted addiction and recovery programs in law enforcement departments throughout the State.
The bill cleared the Senate by a vote of 36-2 and the Assembly by a vote of 72-2-4. It now heads to the Governor for consideration.