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Operation HOPE

posted Sep 29, 2015, 8:59 AM by Tim O'Brien   [ updated Sep 29, 2015, 9:27 AM ]

Effective October 1, 2015, the Scarborough Police Department is launching Operation HOPE

(the Heroin-Opiate Prevention Effort). Operation HOPE is a demand reduction and addiction

outreach program conducted in partnership with the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery

Initiative (PAARI) and fashioned after the pioneering “Gloucester Angel” program.

The Scarborough Police Department is also assisted in conducting Operation HOPE by the

Portland Recovery Community Center (PRCC). The PRCC is a non-profit organization which

serves as a safe haven and support service provider for those in recovery.


On an increasing basis, Maine’s police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical

professionals are dealing with drug-related incidents and overdoses. In the most of these

cases, we are able to save lives. Tragically, however, this is not always the case.

The motivation for establishing Operation HOPE is the dramatic increase in heroin and opiate

abuse in Maine in recent years.

• Heroin related deaths in Maine increased by 714% between 2011 and 2014;

• Overdose deaths involving fentanyl are up 378% during the same period;

• Heroin and opiate addiction drives a significant number (80 – 85%) of the property

crimes we see;

• Funding and access to treatment and recovery programs in Maine are on the decline;

• In the past, police officers have not been aware of what is available in terms of treatment

and recovery options so we could make informed recommendations to people in need.


Operation HOPE will consist of the following elements:

Law Enforcement Training - Scarborough Police officers will receive special training on

addiction-related issues, to include the perspective of recovering addicts. This will enable

officers to better interact with and assist persons suffering from addiction. Initial training has

already occurred and was very well received.

Public Education and Outreach – As officers respond to calls for service and incidents in which

addiction or heroin–opiate abuse is known or suspected, the officer will provide an Operation

HOPE flyer to the individual or family members and offer police support and assistance in

getting help. In addition, the Scarborough Police Department will use its social media presence

(Facebook, Twitter etc.) to help publicize the services available under Operation HOPE.

Drug Turn-in - Any person who enters the Scarborough Police Department and requests help

under Operation HOPE will be allowed to voluntarily turn in heroin, opioids, needles and drug

paraphernalia - - without fear of arrest or charges.

Treatment and Assistance - Any person who enters Scarborough Police Department and

requests help for their addiction under Operation HOPE will initially be screened by a police

officer to determine eligibility for participation in a PAARI-affiliated treatment program. If they

are found to meet program eligibility requirements, they will be assigned an Operation HOPE

volunteer “Angel” who will walk them through the process toward detox and recovery - - to

include accelerated placement in rehabilitation and treatment programs whenever possible. In

those instances in which a person is found ineligible to participate in such a program or a

placement is not immediately available, alternative support and assistance will be offered.

Our volunteer “Angels” are a mix of people. Some are currently in recovery from addiction and

personally understand and empathize with what the program participant is experiencing. Others

are civic-minded community members who wish to address the issue of addiction and help


Treatment Follow-Up - Those persons who have completed a rehabilitation program through

Operation HOPE can continue to promote their recovery by maintaining a relationship with the

PRCC and utilizing the support services it provides.


The Scarborough Police Department and our Operation HOPE partners face many challenges

in helping bring recovery to those suffering with the disease of addiction.

As previously noted, heroin and opiate abuse has reached near-epidemic proportions in Maine;

we have seen the closure of a significant number of in-state treatment and rehabilitation

facilities; there has been a marked decrease in funding for substance abuse prevention and

treatment, and many Mainers lack adequate financial means to access treatment.

Despite these challenges, the Scarborough Police Department and our partners at PRCC and

PAARI are intent on helping change Maine’s response to this public health crisis. We are intent

on fostering a public dialogue and discussion, advocating for increased resources to help fight

the disease of addiction, working in partnership with others to find long term solutions, seeking

to give a face to recovery and, most importantly, helping save lives.