New program aims to change relationship between police, addicts

New program aims to change relationship between police, addicts
(Source: Sharon Yoo/WAVE 3 News)
(Source: Sharon Yoo/WAVE 3 News)
(Source: Sharon Yoo/WAVE 3 News)
(Source: Sharon Yoo/WAVE 3 News)
Jenni Meredith (Source: Sharon Yoo/WAVE 3 News)
Jenni Meredith (Source: Sharon Yoo/WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - There may often be a wall between law enforcement officers and those using illegal drugs. However, one police station in WAVE Country is working to change that.

The Jeffersontown Police Department has partnered up with the Kentucky chapter of Young People in Recovery to start the ANGEL program.

Saturday the project kicked off with a community barbecue lunch at Cherokee Park.

The program is dedicated to opening the police station's doors to "any addict, seeking recovery or alcoholic can come into the J'town Police Department and ask for help. And even if they have paraphernalia, drugs, they can surrender that with no repercussions," according to YPR-Kentucky Housing Leader Jenni Meredith.

Police would then introduce different resources to whoever comes through and give them an option to seek treatment.

"We want the police department to be a safe haven. We want to reduce the stigma of addiction in the community. We want us to unite together to solve this problem," said Sgt. Brittney Garrett of the J'town Police Department.

Meredith says the opportunity to ask for help without the risk of entering the criminal justice system is a big deal. She knows, because she's been through it.

"I even had run-ins with the J'town Police Department before I got sober," she said.

In 2007 she decided she'd had enough and decided to turn things around. That's also when she learned having support was more effective than incarceration.

"Now they're reaching out their hand, wanting to help us. We have to be receptive to that," Meredith said. "For me, I had to open my mind to new things. And for police to say, 'I'm not gonna lock you up, I'm gonna put you in treatment.' That's a huge, huge empowerment for the recovery community."

"We want to build that trust by showing that we are here to help, and that's what it's gonna take," Garrett said. "We want to have people come in and trust that we are going to get them into treatment and keep our word with that."

Saturday's event was dedicated to getting the word out about the program, and for the community to meet the officers who will be working with them.

The ANGEL program will officially start Aug. 1 at the Jeffersontown Police Department.

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