In a break from the status quo, the Gloucester Police Department in Massachusetts announced its plan to put drug addicts who turn in narcotics in rehabilitation programs, instead of charging them for drug possession.
The unique change of course is set to begin June 1, and the rest of the country should take heed, as heroin addiction is a growing epidemic nationwide.
NBC News reports between 2007 and 2012, the number of heroin users doubled to nearly 700,000 across the country. In 2010 alone, 40,393 people died from overdose, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC).
"I've never arrested a tobacco addict, nor have I ever seen one turned down for help when they develop lung cancer, whether or not they have insurance," Police Chief Leonard Campanello said in a Facebook post. "The reasons for the difference in care between a tobacco addict, and an opiate addict is stigma and money. Petty reasons to lose a life."
According to Campanello, upon turning in their drugs and paraphernalia, an addict will be assigned an "angel" who can guide them through their rehabilitation. "Not in hours or days, but on the spot."
Not only will the department be enacting these new practices, but they also announced it will be taking money seized from drug raids to fund Nasal Narcan in local convenience stores, a drug that — if administered correctly — could help reverse the effects of an overdose, potentially saving a life.
"We will save lives with the money from the pockets of those who would take them."
Here is the department's Facebook post in full:
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