Chris Talking, Elizabethtown, Officer discussed on Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network
Hear and you can also Mosey on over to our website lines lines of liberty dot com you can drop me an email felony Friday at lines of Dot Com and let me know what you think. Let's stop beating around the Bush guys. Let's get started with today's episode. Today's episode of Felony Friday. We're going to be talking about a very unique and important program right here in Pennsylvania the state where I'm located. This is the other side of the state. I'm in Pittsburgh. This is over in elizabethtown borough. We're going to be talking about a program called second chance P._A.. It's a pre arrest diversion program for addicts and it's the elizabethtown borough North West regional police departments who've joined up with blueprints for addiction recovery and they're establishing resources that favour rehabilitation over ver- incarceration hope over helplessness helplessness life over death and today. I'm joined by blueprints for Addiction Recovery C.. O. Christopher drives box say hello Christopher everybody thelen and Elizabethtown police chief Edward M Cunningham how John just call me just call you Ed yes okay. I'm glad we got that out of the way I was going to be calling you chief Cunningham the entire entire show so let's Chris has been on the show before think about. I think it was fifty episodes ago Episode One Thirty Four Felony Friday so you know we don't need to hear Chris this whole back story you know he went into out of that episode. We don't need to rehash that. We're GONNA WANNA focus on this program because it's so unique and I think <hes> from you from you. Guys are doing and really implementing <hes> in your local community. I think I wanted to shine a light on that so Chris but if you could just tell us a little bit quickly for people that haven't heard that episode is a little bit about blueprints for addiction recovery and why you're so passionate about helping people suffer from addiction so blueprints for addiction recovery is a state licensed drug and Alcohol Treatment Project. We operate out of five separate locations here in south central Pennsylvania. I'm personally very passionate about this criminal justice work with chief Cunningham in the other police in this area because I myself I self was arrested and a m a felon. I spent nearly seven hundred days of my life in jail for drug related offenses and things related to my addiction and really really loves working with progressive people like Ed to to help other people avoid the struggles that I had to go through. Thank you for sharing that Christopher and <hes> ed if you could just tell us <hes> what attracted you to a career in law enforcement and what's your career your progression in Elizabethtown the whole time if you have you moved around a little bit now I actually I am a third generation police officer. My Dad and grandfather were both police officers and I got got my start. I worked a couple of small departments south of Pittsburgh part time until I finally in nineteen ninety five got hired full time by the city of Pittsburgh police and I had a wide range of experiences is working at twenty three years with Pittsburgh worked my way up I finally when I left Pittsburgh. My rank was lieutenant and I I saw the damage that was done by not drug abuse and drug use and and I saw that we were arrested in a lot of people for <hes> for small amounts of drugs and when what they really needed was help <hes> the problem was I just didn't have the resources to do anything about it. In Pittsburgh on January of last year I got hired as the chief of police here in Elizabethtown January eighteen and just through the the progression of doing my job I met Chris and we we came up with this really really interesting idea of trying to let the police be the gateway a to helping people who need help get help in my career I've done I've done some works. Some work in drug work some in crisis negotiation some in patrol so I've had a very widely varied career but this is one of the things that I've always been a purdy passionate about is trying to get people help who need the help. It's fantastic so what what community south of Pittsburgh I live south of Pittsburgh. I actually worked out in Hanover township in Washington County outwear. It's now I guess it was the Star Lake amphitheater. Oh yeah so I was one of. The officers that worked there worked real hard in the summertime and not at all in the winter not not much going on there in the winter. That's so I'm curious. So this program you guys met. Each Other was at Chris did did you did you approach editor. How did this come about that? I'm not a thousand percent sure <hes> I think maybe my office reached out to him as the new chief of police and we just wanted to talk a little bit about blueprints and what we do to help residents of Elizabethtown and really just introduce him than little. Did I know that Ed was a progressive police chief that really wanted to make an impact in people's lives and change the way things are done in Pennsylvania and he can talk a little bit more about the small meeting that turned into into this awesome program it started off as just a when I first got here I was trying to meet as many business owners as I could and with Chris being a business owner here in town we got it <unk> set up through a mutual acquaintance and just plan to have a fifteen minute meeting and we started talking and that fifteen minute meeting <hes> initially turned into about a three hour afternoon and that's where we really got the ball rolling for the second chance program Yeah I do remember Chris called me. This was probably before the program started. I was <hes> we have a mutual friend in DEL currency ran for U._S.. Senate and I remember Chris Talking about how excited he was about this program <hes> and just the potential of it before it even rolled out so <hes> I know that how long has has this been implemented fort like what's the what's the time was the kickoff date per se the official kickoff date was January first of this year we were actually doing some test cases through the end of November and into December and got a few people connected with the service as we were trying to work out the all of the details but the official launch was January first of this year and just to give some background on how it works so it's a a pre arrest diversion program for addicts so what types of cases what types of situations would this program and feel free. I should probably say whoever can best address the question just jump in because both address it. I mean this isn't directed to any one of you but how does that work on case by case basis good chief the things the things that we're looking at for pre arrests and pre arrest diversion is just one one portion of the overall program and Bay we look at the second chance <hes> when we were building in Chris and I were building at we took the best part of a number of different programs from around the country to put it together for something that we thought would be unique and really address all of the pro the problems that we saw that we were facing and and for a for a pre arrest diversion it would be something that's a small level <hes> a small amount of possession or paraphernalia charge or maybe something like Chris and I were just talking about about this earlier today. How a lot of times theft cases are really the the the addiction is the motivator behind theft case and so if we have a small theft a case that might be a that might be a candidate for for the pre arrest diversion <hes> basically it's? It's not it's summary cases very low level misdemeanors. Were obviously not going to be ignoring hiring felonies. Were not going to be ignoring anything violent <hes> when I'm saying felonies. I'm saying things that the criminal justice system says has to be addressed through an arrest. It's it's going to be the smaller ones the smaller cases that we would have the discretion at the magistrate's Office to knock down to a fine or something like that those are going to be the kind of cases that were that are the true pre arrest this diversion of some of the larger cases. We're not abandoning those people if a person comes to us it or if we come in contact with the person who needs the help but who is facing a more serious charge urge than the police officers go into more of an advocate role and we still make contact with the recovery specialist we still make contact and make a referral through the second chance program <hes> and we move into helping them get the help that they need once they've addressed the legal issues that have to be addressed but you know another big part of the program is that we've also turned the police stations into <hes> gateways into to safe places that a person can come and say <hes> you know excuse me but I need help. I can't do this anymore. I need help and if if they happen to have a little bit of paraphernalia on them or a small amount of drugs or something then that would be something that we're not going to arrest them for asking for help. That's great so so from there once <hes> so say some walks police station or say one of these arrests are is made or I guess before they're arrested. <hes> what happens then is blueprints contacted or how does how does that a play out. The officers can call and the officers have received training on how to do an initial assessment of you know. Is this person a good candidate for the second chance program and we have a phone number through blueprints for the <hes> the certified recovery specialists and there are several of them that Chris has on on call for us and we have a a number that we can call twenty four hours a day seven days a week anytime of the day and we have a commitment through the second chance program that someone you know a live person will answer the phone and we'll talk to us and and will if if it's appropriate will come out whatever time it is will come out to where we need them and begin the assessment <unk> process to get this person into help immediately and that's one one of the things that makes our program unique among all the other programs in the country that we were able to find is that we have the C._R._S.. Who will come to the scene of where we are and begin immediately working to get the person help C._R._S. stands for certified recovery specialists so that's somebody who has trained to meet a person where they are a person who is pre recovery to try to get them into recovery and certified by our loving overlords at the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania so Chris <hes> this this initiative second chance for P._A.? How's it how's it funded is it a part of blueprints is it a separate entity is is entirely separate entity from blueprints? I obviously am the C._E._O.. Theo blueprints the blueprints is in everything that I do <hes> but second chance Pierre is a completely separate initiative <hes> up until very recently it has been completely self funded by blueprints on myself personally <hes> we are very close to attaining nonprofit status with the great overlords federal government and at that point we will then shift to an entirely different structure where we have a board that includes several notable folks and chief hunting included <hes> and will then be able to begin fundraising and have it become its own self supporting entity and hopefully show everybody <hes> that private citizens can do a lot to help this epidemic excellent excellent so this went into effect several months ago. Can you give us any idea of what sort of impacts been made so far. Is there any anything you can share cheap. That's okay we've had today. We've had fifty six referrals. Mostly through the the three. The three partners in the very beginning were elizabethtown police North West regional police and Susquehanna Valley E._M._S.. We were the three who got in at the very beginning and we're slowly bringing in other police departments and other E._M._S. providers to to start making this program available to people where they need it <hes> we we actually have training scheduled for two other police departments coming up in the next month or two and I Chris and I both have meetings with several other chiefs to try to expand the program but at this point we've had fifty six referrals and we're doing pretty much anything that we can think of to get this help out to other people <hes> <hes> one of the things that that were were doing is that we got Chris Involved in coming to our D._U._i.. Checkpoints and we have a blueprints specialists recovery specialists. I'm sorry a second chance recovery very special list coming to all of our stationary checkpoints so if we find somebody at a d._U._i.. Checkpoint who needs who is suffering from addiction and needs help were able to get it for them immediately right there on the scene at the at the the stationary checkpoint and we have we have some very notable success stories are very first referral to the program. Actually we kicked off at what at noon Chris like at noon on January first and we got our first call at seven o'clock that night and it was a <hes> a woman who was suffering from alcohol addiction who was at risk of losing her nursing job and second chance was able to connect are with Rehab and with the services that she needs and she was able to WHO <hes> complete the beginning part of that and my understanding is. She's doing very well with beating that addiction. That's fantastic if I can add to that John Thank jumping that was actually before January first I that was before we had even officially launched at officers that we've done the training with encountered a wonderful lady passed out behind a dumpster and when she woke up from her alcohol induced stupor she got a little progressive with the officer thankfully that officer had been through our training and he understood a little bit about compassion in times of crisis and a little bit about the brain science of addiction and he had four thought to say hey. Let's call the cert recovery specialists and get her some help now now if she had gotten charged with attacking a police officer or public drunkenness or whatever it might have been might have been at risk of losing her nursing license and through this program our first case <hes> saved ladies nursing license saved her job or means of living and I'm assuming that without alcohol she's probably even a much better nurse than she was previously so just in case.