In August of 2016, I was promoted to the rank of Chief of Police for Lacey Township. Since then, my number one priority has been and will continue to be to decrease the heroin epidemic that is among us. Almost immediately, I prepared a 5-Point Plan to decrease the heroin epidemic in our community, to include, Enforcement, Education, Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery. Almost immediately the Lacey Township Police Department began its first ever Narcotics Enforcement Unit, consisting of three full-time police detectives, one who is assigned to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Narcotics Task Force. Soon after, the Lacey Township Police Department began strengthening its relationship with the Lacey Township Board of Education. The Lacey Township Police Department partnered with the Law Enforcement Against Drugs Program (L.E.A.D) and presented the program to the 6th grade students at the Mill Pond School. This program was lead by Detective Kymberly Gudgeon, Officer John D. Simonson, Officer Charles May, and Health Education Teacher Nancy Coleman-Perez (134 students graduated the L.E.A.D. program on June 2nd, 2017). The L.E.A.D. program was a success and it will be presented to both the 6th and 8th grade students in the 2017/2018 school year. In addition, we have partnered with a recovery group called Young People in Recovery (YPR) of Ocean County led by Donna Catlow. YPR meets in the Lacey Township Recreation Department conference room on a monthly basis. This program is geared toward young adults who have been through treatment and are now in recovery. Decreasing the heroin epidemic and building a strong positive relationship with our community, including our school children, remains the number one priority for the Lacey Township Police Department.
With that, I am proud to announce that the Lacey Township Police Department will be joining three other Ocean County Municipalities, including Stafford, Brick, and Manchester Townships, in the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office “Blue Hart” program, to help fight heroin addiction and the epidemic that is among us. The “Blue Hart” Program stands for Blue Heroin Addiction Recovery and Treatment Program, formally known as the Heroin Addiction Response Program (HARP). The program is set to start in Lacey Township on Monday, June 26th, 2017.
The Blue Hart Program provides critical addiction recovery help. It allows those, who for example, are addicted to Heroin/Opiates to turn themselves in at any of the four participating police departments including Lacey Township Police, in order to go to addiction service providers for treatment evaluation without any threat of charges or jail.
The Lacey Township Police Department will join the initiative by collaborating with Ocean Mental Health located in Bayville, NJ. The Stafford Township Police Department is also partnered with Ocean Mental Health. The Brick Township Police Department is aligned with Preferred Behavioral Health in Lakewood, NJ, and the Manchester Township Police Department is aligned with Integrity House in Toms River, NJ.
Immediate critical help will be available in Lacey Township Police Department on Mondays, at the Stafford Township Police Department on Tuesdays, in Manchester Township Police Department on Wednesdays and the Brick Township Police Department on Thursdays, all between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Anyone who voluntarily enters the four participating police departments, including the Lacey Township Police Department, and requests help with addiction to heroin or opiates, or any substance, shall be immediately screened for potential participation in the program. The program is primarily designed to apply to individuals who present themselves at the participating police departments. However, an officer who thinks an individual needs the help can bring him or her to the police station if they consent to the voluntary screening process. After the screening process, the assigned Detective/Officer must provide transportation for the participant to the aligned agency as soon as reasonably possible.
As of today, the Stafford, Brick and Manchester Township Police Departments have accounted for over 165 participants accepted into this program, thanks to the generous commitment of Ocean Mental Health, Behavioral Health and Integrity House.
The Lacey Township Police Department will continue to focus on all aspects of decreasing the heroin epidemic, including Police Enforcement.
I need to thank Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato, Chief Glenn Miller, Ocean Mental Health, and the Township of Lacey for making Blue Hart available to the Lacey Township Police Department. I am really looking forward to the success of this program.
If anyone has any questions in regard to the “Blue Hart” program you may contact Chief Michael C. DiBella or Captain Patrick Ganley at 609-693-6636, or you may contact the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027.
-Chief Michael C. DiBella