In Massachusetts, one town's police chief is pushing for innovative new programs to handle the community's growing heroin problem — and, if successful, the fresh ideas may become a model for the rest of the country.
U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Massachusetts) not only supports policies being touted by Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello in the fight against heroin and other opioid addiction, he sees the chief’s proposals as a potential national model for others.
Moulton, the first-term Salem Democrat, made his comments after meeting at length with Campanello in Washington this week during a two-day trip to push for more federal funding for addiction treatment and recovery programs.
Moulton praised Campanello for emerging as an “extraordinary leader on this issue, not only for Gloucester but for the whole country.
Among other things, Campanello’s city drug policies — targeted to take effect in Gloucester next month — include not charging addicts who would bring drugs to the police station and ask for help, pairing each addict with a monitoring “angel” who could help the addict through treatment, and calling for a federal legislative change that would steer more federal drug forfeiture dollars into treatment and recovery programs in local communities. Such programs are not currently eligible for forfeiture funding, Moulton’s office said.
“Obviously, this isn’t just a local or a regional problem,” Moulton said. “It’s not a Democrat or Republican problem. It is a serious national problem that we have not been able to address, and Chief Campanello is bringing forward a different approach. I can tell you there is a great deal of interest in what he is doing, and in these policies.”
Moulton acknowledged the idea of not charging drug users is “obviously going to be contentious” on the national level.
“Let’s face it, illegal drug users are breaking the law,” Moulton said, “but Chief Campanello — as a former narcotics officer and now as a police chief — has worked to address this problem by targeting suppliers, and by looking toward treatment and recovery for users. And he’s got a lot of credibility given where he’s coming from.
“We’ve got to try a different approach, and I have tremendous respect for his willingness to take the lead on these issues,” Moulton said. ““AlI I can tell you is there’s a lot of interest in the chief’s ideas."
The Gloucester Daily Times staff writer Ray Lamont reported this story.