Heroin addicts won’t be arrested if they agree to treatment

GLOUCESTER (AP) – A Massachusetts police department is promising heroin addicts won’t be arrested if they turn in their drugs and agree to seek treatment.

Addicts will instead be taken to the hospital by an officer, where they’ll be connected with substance abuse treatment specialists.

Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello says the program, which launched Monday, is about trying to change police strategies in the face of a growing drug epidemic that has hit New England states especially hard.

Advocates say the effort is the first of its kind in the state and, perhaps, the country.

But the Essex County District Attorney’s office has warned police they may lack the legal authority to promise addicts they won’t be charged with a crime. Campanello says the department is on solid legal footing.

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