West Orange police debut Operation Hope, seek volunteers

WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange Police Department hopes to roll out a program this fall that places heroin and opiate users into drug treatment instead of jail.

Members of the Township Council will vote Tuesday, June 14, on whether to approve Operation HOPE — Heroin – Opiate Prevention Effort — an affiliation between the West Orange Police Department and Integrity House. Those who voluntarily appear will receive assistance through the police department in partnership with Integrity House.

Through Operation HOPE, any person who contacts the police department and requests help for a substance-use disorder can turn in heroin, opiates, needles or other paraphernalia without fear of arrest. Participants in the treatment program are paired with an Operation HOPE volunteer “angel,” who then guides the person through the process of recovery, including placement into Integrity House’s rehabilitation program.

According to treatment experts, New Jersey’s heroin and opiate problem has touched a wide-spectrum of the state’s citizens. More than 28,000 sought treatment in New Jersey for heroin or opioid abuse in 2015, according to a release from the township.

“Data on overdose deaths in past years points to a growing number of victims in smaller, suburban municipalities,” Police Chief James P. Abbott said in the release. “We hope to mirror the success Operation HOPE has had not only in Gloucester, Mass., but the many other locations it has been adopted since.”

The problem is nationwide, say treatment experts. In the past decade, the number of overdose deaths has quadrupled in the United States. As a result, Operation HOPE volunteers serve as a lifeline to those in recovery and looking to enter recovery.

For further information or to sign up to be an “angel,” visit www.westorange.org/police to fill out the volunteer application or send an email to [email protected]; the deadline is July 31. For information on surrendering drugs or drug paraphernalia, contact the West Orange police at 973-325-4000.