FERNDALE, Mich. (WJBK) - The heroin epidemic gripping Metro Detroit is forcing law enforcement to find new ways to combat the dangerous drug.
Earlier this week, Macomb County launched a new program aimed at getting addicts help instead of getting them in handcuffs. It's called Hope Not Handcuffs. Now Ferndale Police are getting involved, too.
"We're not going to arrest our way out of the neroin epidemic. Not going to happen." says Ferndale Police Sgt. Baron Brown.
Brown signed Ferndale Police up for the Hope Not Handcuffs initiative. He says he's seen a family member struggle with addiction; he also recalls a tough moment three years ago.
"We had a mom and daughter walk out of their house to go to school. There was someone who [overdosed] laying in the snow in the driveway, and that has always stuck with me."
Hope Not Handcuffs gives addicts access to free treatment without giving them the fear of jail time. Anyone who is in need or want of help is asked to come to the Ferndale Police Department where they will be welcomed with recovery support, no questions asked. A program volunteer, who refer to themselves as rehab angels, will then meet you at the police station. The angels help with everything from paperwork to transportation to various treatment centers.
Once treatment is complete, the angels will help provide aftercare.
"This is a place that you can come, a safe place where you can get help," says Sgt. Brown. "You don't have to look over your shoulder at us and worry about us trying to lock you up, because you took care of this problem."
While the program was designed to combat heroin addiction, addicts struggling with other drugs can also participate. The program is sponsored through Families Against Narcotics.
The Ferndale Police Department is the first law enforcement agency in Oakland County to implement the initiative. Every police department in Macomb County began participating earlier this month.