‘We knew we couldn’t arrest our way out of this issue’ FWPD aims to stop drug addiction

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Used needles, spoons with drug reside and a bag from a drug transaction were all scattered in the parking lot of a hotel located on the northwest side of Fort Wayne.

Despite it’s small size, detectives told WANE 15’s Briana Brownlee that they receive the highest amount of drug abuse related calls from the property. Areas such as that hotel is the reason Fort Wayne Police created its Hope and Recovery Team (HART) program.

“When we were making arrest, I notice that there were times especially in the drug trade, where it was the same people going back and forth with everything. Some of these people who were on opioids would pass away on their second or third overdose before paperwork would even go through for the first arrest. We knew we weren’t going to be able to arrest ourselves out of this situation when it comes to drug use, especially with needles and opioids,” said FWPD Detective Jeremy Ormiston.

HART started about a year and a half ago and its goal is not to arrest users, but to restore hope and get those people treatment. In partnership with Parkview’s peer recovery coaches, after a nonfatal overdose, two police detectives follow up with the person to see if they need help.

“You will be very hard pressed to find anybody in this community that has not been touched by addiction or substance use disorder,” said FWPD Captain Kevin Hunter. “Knowing that there are so many people that suffer with substance use disorder out there, we just have to do something different and really try to help them, because in the long run they are humans too. They haven’t made a moral failure. They just have a disease and that disease is addiction.”

If the person accepts the help, they are connected with clinical services including medical treatment and programs. HART also partners with Lutheran Social Services who not only help the person suffering from substance abuse but also their families.

Detective Ormiston said that he does not want people to mix the criminal justice system in with the program.

“We don’t want to give a bad stigma to what this is going to do. I want people to see the HART team show up and know and feel comfortable that they aren’t in any trouble and they can talk openly and freely about anything they want to talk to us about with substance abuse. That way we can get them the right treatment and the treatment that is the most productive,” Ormiston said. 

This program started in October of 2019. In 12 months there have been 387 non-fatal overdose calls. Now during the pandemic, police are experiencing an increase in calls.

HART offers:

  • Recovery wellness plans
  • Outpatient programs
  • Inpatient programs
  • Medication assisted treatment
  • The syringe services program (SSP)
  • Counseling programs
  • Peer led support groups (NA, AA)
  • Free Narcan Nasal Spray

For help call The HART line at 260-427-5801.

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