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Lockport PD ‘Safe Passage Initiative’ for heroin addicts shows early success

Lathan Goumas - lgoumas@shawmedia.com
Lockport
Lathan Goumas - lgoumas@shawmedia.com Lockport

Lockport is seeing some success in getting help to residents who are addicted to heroin.

Since the start of the Lockport police department’s Safe Passage Initiative in January, 11 residents have come through the program with nine “on the road to recovery,” Lockport Police Chief Terry Lemming told the city council’s Committee of the Whole on Wednesday night.

The Safe Passage Initiative is a program started by the Lockport Police Department – in collaboration with the Lemont and Mokena police departments as well as the A Man in Recovery Foundation – that seeks to get addicts looking to get clean into treatment programs.

A mother of one woman placed into a program recently visited Lemming and told him that her daughter has been in a program for six weeks and is “doing phenomenally well,” he said.

As part of the program, the police department has allocated $10,000 in its 2017 budget as well as $10,000 in its 2018 budget to help pay for the first month of treatment for addicts who are Lockport residents and request help but don’t have healthcare insurance, Lemming said after the meeting.

That money comes from the police department’s federal asset forfeiture fund which is the share it receives from the federal government’s seizure of money and property used in the commission of crimes.

Of the 11 Lockport residents who voluntarily walked into the police department requesting treatment, five did not have insurance, Lemming said. All 11 were put in contact with A Man in Recovery and subsequently placed in treatment programs around the country. Five others who were not residents were also directed to A Man in Recovery. For uninsured Lockport residents, the police department will pay for the first month of a three-month drug addiction treatment program. The recovering addict then works at the treatment center to pay for the remaining two months.

Not all of the $10,000 for this year has been used and Lemming is “hoping to spend every penny of that amount,” he said.

While Lemming is pleased for the nine who are in recovery, he knows that there are more out there that have not come in or may not know about the program.

Lemming said that since the start of the year the police department has seen 12 overdose victims – four of whom could not be saved. The department was able to administer the emergency drug naloxone – which it started using in 2015 – to nine of these victims and saved the lives of eight, he said.

Lemming fears people may be becoming complacent in the face of increasing overdoses and more needs to be done to get addicts the help they need.

“For every addict that comes in there are 20 or 30 more that need help,” he said.

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