Massachusetts Chief’s Tack in Drug War: Steer Addicts to Rehab, Not Jail

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Leonard Campanello, a military arch in Gloucester, Mass., is spearheading an bid to beam addicts toward diagnosis instead of impediment them.

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Shiho Fukada for The New York Times

CANTON, Ohio — Leonard Campanello, a military arch of Gloucester, Mass., took a microphone here in mid-December and non-stop with his common warm-up line: I’m from Gloucester, he pronounced in his complicated Boston accent. “That’s spelled ‘G-l-o-s-t-a-h.’”

A accidentally scurrilous male with a philosophical bent, Chief Campanello, 48, initial drew inhabitant courtesy final open when he wrote on Facebook that a aged quarrel on drugs was mislaid and over. A follower that obsession is a disease, not a crime, he became a surprising law coercion officer charity heroin users an choice to prison.

“Any addict who walks into a military hire with a residue of their drug apparatus (needles, etc.) or drugs and asks for assistance will NOT be charged,” he wrote. “Instead we will travel them by a complement toward detox and recovery” and send them for diagnosis “on a spot.”

That post from a parochial military arch was common some-more than 30,000 times and noticed by 2.4 million people. By June, his Police Department had put his guarantee into movement in what became famous as Gloucester’s Angel program.

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Jason Brown, left, and Catherine Adams, heading a tiny organisation of activists from We Care, or Waldo Encourages Community Assisted Recovery Efforts, a organisation dedicated to providing support and resources for obsession recovery, by Belfast, Me., in September.

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Tristan Spinski for The New York Times

Critics pronounced that he did not have a government to take a law into his possess hands and abandon arrests. But other military departments, fed adult with impediment addicts and removing nowhere, saw a new approach to residence a widespread of heroin and medication pain pills, that together killed 47,055 people in 2014 national — some-more than died in automobile accidents, homicides or suicides.

Since a module began, 375 addicts have incited themselves in during a city’s section military station. About 40 percent are from a Gloucester area; a rest find their approach there from all over a country. All have been placed in treatment. Just as surprisingly, 56 military departments in 17 states have started programs modeled on or desirous by Gloucester’s, with 110 some-more scheming to do so.

In addition, 200 diagnosis centers opposite a nation have sealed on as partners. In 6 months, Gloucester, that steers people to diagnosis though does not itself yield it, has grown a national network of centers peaceful to yield beds and take referrals by a police, regardless of either a addict has insurance.

“This has a intensity to be a disruptive creation that changes a design of how we understanding with a disease,” pronounced David Rosenbloom, a highbrow of health routine and government during a Boston University School of Public Health, who has been examining information for Gloucester. And it is a magnitude of a widespread recklessness to pierce over a quarrel on drugs that so many have been peaceful to try it.

These days, a arch is mostly on a road, addressing military departments, relatives and diagnosis providers in speeches like a one here final month to 150 piece abuse clinicians, sponsored by a Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Stark County.

He told a assembly how his officers had grown their possess database of diagnosis sites, that they call over and over until they secure a bed.

“A bed not accessible during 10 a.m. competence be accessible during 10:10, though they won’t tell we that,” Chief Campanello said. “If we wish Bruce Springsteen tickets, we aren’t going to stop pursuit since we get a bustling signal.”

But being matched with a bed is usually a initial step for an addict on a long, exhausting highway to recovery. Heroin retains such a inhuman reason on mind cells that relapses are noticed as partial of a process.

Chief Campanello pronounced addicts in his module were always welcomed back, no questions asked.

He afterwards incited somber, revelation a assembly about a phone call he perceived that morning.

A male named Steve Jesi had called to contend his daughter, Stephenie, 33, who had been in and out of a Gloucester program, had relapsed for a third time, overdosed and been found dead. She was a initial chairman in a module who did not make it.

“Despite a best efforts, we know people will die,” Chief Campanello told a audience. “That doesn’t make it feel any better.”

His voice caught. His eyes welled with tears.

“I know it’s successful,” he pronounced about a program. “And we know we’re saving lives. But we worry about a one we lost.”

The Eriks of a World

In 1990, Mr. Campanello was study rapist probity during Northeastern University in Boston, where he warranted his bachelor’s degree, when he assimilated a Saugus, Mass., military force. (He after warranted a master’s grade in rapist probity administration during Boston University.)

The youngest of 4 children, he grew adult in a Roman Catholic Italian family in Saugus, a blue-collar city 10 miles north of Boston. His father was a dialect store salesman, while his mom lifted a family.

Russell Campanello, his comparison hermit by 12 years, a record attention executive, attempted to speak him into apropos a lawyer. But, Russell said, “he felt there were adequate lawyers and not adequate military on a travel assisting people.”

During his 22 years on a Saugus force, Chief Campanello worked clandestine in a narcotics section for 7 years. There, he met a child named Erik whose relatives were heroin addicts. Erik was regulating by age 12 and passed by 19.

“We arrested Erik a dozen times,” Chief Campanello removed one night on his approach to O’Hare International Airport after participating in a row contention in Chicago.

“We suspicion things like ‘Erik needs help,’” he said. “But there were no avenues for that, generally by a military force. It wasn’t a responsibility.”

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A 20-year-old heroin addict concluded to go to detox by a Gloucester Police Department Angel module in Jan after he overdosed.

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Katherine Taylor for The New York Times

In 2012, he became arch in Gloucester, a fishing city of 28,000 and a environment for “The Perfect Storm.” Married, he lives circuitously with his family. The chief, who plays a piano by ear, is drawn to songs like Mr. Springsteen’s “You’re Missing,” an groan about detriment after a militant attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It reminds him, he said, of those who have mislaid someone to heroin.

And as conduct of a 60-person military force, he said, he was during final in a position to do something for a Eriks of a world.

With Compassion

The Gloucester Angel module grew out of a city forum final open on a heroin crisis. Four people had died of overdoses in a initial 3 months of 2015, some-more than had died in all of 2014. Residents pronounced they wanted addicts treated with compassion.

Chief Campanello pronounced a program, that operates around a clock, “is about a community’s tour assisting one another, a charitable bid that they wanted their Police Department to reflect.”

When addicts uncover up, an officer calls on one of 55 “angels,” internal volunteers who are in liberation or differently informed with addiction, to listen and offer dignified support. The officer takes a story and starts dialing diagnosis facilities, where clinicians establish what diagnosis best suits a addict and of what duration. Beds have been found in as small as 17 mins and as most as a integrate of days. Some of those beds are as tighten as Gloucester; others, as distant as California.

Many internal businesses support a program: A pharmacy in Gloucester ignored naloxone, that reverses a effects of an overdose, and CVS and Walgreens followed suit. Taxi companies yield giveaway rides to diagnosis comforts or a airport. The ambulance use offers a reduced rate.

The dialect spends an normal of $55 for any addict, Chief Campanello said, compared with $220 spent to arrest, routine and reason an addict in control for a singular day.

Most of a costs are borne by a Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, that Chief Campanello founded final summer with John E. Rosenthal, a businessman who lives in Gloucester. Mr. Rosenthal has worked to assuage homelessness in Boston and founded Stop Handgun Violence.

The organisation has lifted hundreds of thousands of dollars and perceived millions in in-kind contributions, including chain in diagnosis centers. “When a arch wrote that blog post in a open and got 2.4 million hits, he called and said, ‘Help!’” Mr. Rosenthal said. “I saw unequivocally fast that this could be a tipping point.”

Among a program’s success stories is Kristina, 29, who worked during a bar and lived nearby Gloucester. She did not wish her final name used.

She pennyless an ankle, started out on pain pills and eventually changed on to heroin. After about dual years, she said, she started “creating wreckage” in her life, crashing her automobile and losing her apartment. She attempted though success to find diagnosis on her own.

Finally, she said, confronting jail time, she incited herself in during a Gloucester military station.

“They worked any entrance to get me into treatment,” Kristina said. Occasionally officers call to check on her. “They said, ‘If we ever need anything, a doors are still open, no matter what.’”

Still, a module has a critics.

Jonathan W. Blodgett, a district profession of Essex County, where Gloucester is, warned Chief Campanello that he did not have a government to offer freedom to someone for a crime of heroin possession.

Elizabeth D. Scheibel, a former district profession for a Northwestern District of Massachusetts in Northampton, raises other questions. “Selective enforcement” of a law, she said, “could good have a manifold impact on a inherent rights of other offenders.”

And, she said, earnest freedom not usually takes divided an inducement to finish a diagnosis program, it could also mystify an review involving an addict who competence have been concerned in a critical crime before surrendering to a police.

Chief Campanello pronounced that his officers still followed drug traffickers, and that some of a addicts had even forked a military to their dealers. But during one speech, to military officers in Belfast, Me., he satisfied he competence come opposite as soft.

“I’m sounding reduction like a military arch and some-more like a amicable activist,” he said. “I’m going to have to go detain somebody.”

Chief Campanello has laid out his truth — encapsulated in a fender plaque on his bureau wall, “Strong Men Don’t Bully” — and a program’s nuts and bolts in officer-to-officer talks around a country. Chiefs from Scarborough, Me.; Cooperstown, N.Y.; Lodi, Ohio; and Rolling Meadows, Ill., among others, have sought his recommendation as they repetitious his program. So far, some-more than 400 addicts around a nation have incited themselves in during 56 military departments.

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Cheryl Marlow and Steve Jesi visiting a gravesite of their daughter, Stephenie Jesi. She was in and out of a Angel module and is described as a initial chairman in it who eventually did not make it.

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Shiho Fukada for The New York Times

“Lenny triggered some extraordinary out-of-the-box thinking,” pronounced Frederick Ryan, a arch in Arlington, Mass., a Boston suburb, that skeleton to start charity a possess freedom module this year.

Gloucester’s mayor, Sefatia Romeo Theken, also stands behind a chief.

“I consider it’s a illusory program,” she said. “If we arrested any singular addict, they’d usually be behind on a street.”

Still, overdoses continue to occur. One weekend this month, Gloucester grappled with 4 in a 24-hour period. Naloxone regenerated a addicts. And Chief Campanello again took to Facebook, reaching out to all addicts and assuring them that if they incited themselves in, there would be no judgment.

“We accept you,” he posted.

“If you’re disheartened since you’ve attempted before,” he wrote, “know that relapse is partial of a disease, and we will be there again and again and again until we make it.”

Eulogies, Still

For all his efforts, infrequently all Chief Campanello can do is broach a intense eulogy, as he did for Stephenie Jesi on a wintry Saturday before Christmas.

Her problem started when she pennyless an ankle in 2012 and was prescribed OxyContin. She shortly went from a good-paying pursuit with Verizon and a good home in Stoneham, about 10 miles north of Boston, to a losing conflict with heroin.

A year ago, she went to rehab in Florida, though relapsed. “She was regulating again, and was off and running,” pronounced her father, 62, a business consultant.

Over a subsequent several months, it would be a same story of treatment, relapse and trouble.

Stephenie entered a Gloucester module in August, and a arch got her into a diagnosis facility. After serve relapses, Chief Campanello got her into a second diagnosis facility, and afterwards a third.

“There’s no primer about what to do,” pronounced her mother, Cheryl Marlow, 61. “The arch was a usually resource.”

On Dec. 8, Stephenie overdosed again, was treated during a sanatorium and was afterwards discharged.

Three days later, she sent her relatives an email observant she was on a watchful list for a bed, though not by Gloucester.

“I don’t know how to put all my pieces behind together, and this is unequivocally annoying to go by this in front of so many people who don’t know anything about addiction,” she wrote. “The people who say, ‘If she unequivocally cared during all about her family, she would have stopped a prolonged time ago,’ or, ‘she’s attempted removing purify some-more times afterwards we can count; what creates this time any different?’ — those are a kinds of questions that make this so annoying and so tough to come behind any time.”

The subsequent day, she exchanged texts with her mother, who asked if she had Chief Campanello’s number. She did. “I don’t know because she didn’t call him,” her mom pronounced later.

Stephenie died that night, alone in a hotel room.

Her relatives pronounced that notwithstanding carrying mislaid their daughter, they were beholden to a arch and his officers for all they had done. “He was a usually go-to chairman that we had to go to,” Mr. Jesi said.

They urged friends and family to make donations to a Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative and asked a arch to broach their daughter’s eulogy.

Hundreds of mourners packaged a church, St. Mary of a Annunciation, in Danvers. “Her genocide for us is a good loss, and one that we will humour as a military dialect with all of we for a very, unequivocally prolonged time,” Chief Campanello said.

His officers would redouble their efforts to quarrel a disease, he told a mourners. “We will, in a difference of Dylan Thomas, fury opposite a failing of a light, again.” His voice cracked.

Stephenie’s 4 brothers carried her coffin to a watchful hearse. Gloucester military cars led a way to a cemetery. She was buried subsequent to her grandparents.