Hope Not Handcuffs (HNH)—a community-police partnership that offers a single point of access to substance abuse treatment—has received a $10,000 grant through the Orange County Legislature.
Orange County Legislator Rob Sassi said half of the grant will fund marketing materials, such as billboards, flyers, police car decals and more. The other half will fund training for new police departments and volunteers who come on board.
The grant was awarded to the Police Chiefs’ Association of Orange County to be used for HNH in Orange County.
The program is coordinated through the Tri-County Community Partnership (TCCP), a community coalition centered in Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties that raises awareness of the dangers of drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse.
TCCP President Annette Kahrs said she is grateful to Sassi and Orange County for all their support. Marketing is an important and expensive part of HNH, Kahrs said, because people cannot utilize the program if they are not aware of it.
“This helps us a great deal,” Kahrs said. “We can’t help people if people don’t know about it. So, an essential part of this program is making sure that the community is aware of it and that it’s there for them, and that’s what this money will help us do.”
Individuals suffering from substance abuse can walk into or call any participating police station and ask for help through the HNH program. The individual will go through a brief intake process to determine if they are eligible. Then, they will be placed into treatment as soon as possible through a HNH angel.
Angels are ordinary people who undergo HNH training and volunteer to place individuals into treatment. They offer compassion, kindness, and respect, as well as comfort items such as snacks, blankets, notes, clothes, toiletries and candy.
The TCCP created the first HNH chapter outside of Michigan, where the model was founded by Families Against Narcotics, last November in the Town of Wallkill Police Department.
Since then, the program has expanded to 18 active and soon-to-be active police departments in Orange, Rockland, Putnam and Dutchess Counties, according to Kahrs. Orange County has the largest number of police departments on board, with eight active police departments and two soon to be active.
Kahrs said the program has also recruited more than 500 angels.
“It’s a tremendous demonstration of the human spirit, that people have come forward and stood up to help somebody out,” Kahrs said.
Kahrs said every person who has entered a police station has been placed into treatment, providing a lifeline for those suffering from substance abuse and their loved ones.
Often, individuals and their loved ones don’t know where to start when seeking treatment, as the process of cutting through the red tape and bureaucracy of placement into treatment is overwhelming. HNH takes away that barrier for accessing treatment.
“If they need help and they’ve made that decision, we are there for them,” Kahrs said.
Sassi said the next step for substance abuse treatment is to create a three-digit 311 number for substance abuse. Like 911, anyone can call the 311 number, and they will be routed to a special addiction treatment specialist in the 911 call center in Goshen.
To fill out an angel volunteer form, find more information for the next angel training, seek help through the program, or find a list of participating police stations, visit tricountycommunitypartnership.org. The Hope Not Handcuffs program can also be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 833-428-4673.