KSP ‘Angel Initiative’ to help opioid addicts

Published 8:57 am Monday, March 5, 2018


The Paducah Sun

The Kentucky State Police announced Thursday the launch of the Angel Initiative, which encourages people suffering with a substance use disorder to visit a local KSP post for assistance with treatment.

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Those taking advantage of the Angel Initiative would visit a KSP post, where they will be paired with a local officer who will help them find an appropriate treatment program. The process is voluntary, and participants will not be arrested or charged with any violations if they agree to treatment.

The program will be operated in conjunction with Gov. Matt Bevin’s “Don’t Let Them Die” campaign, aimed at raising awareness of the opioid epidemic and offering treatment resources to fight addiction.

“The Angel Initiative is a valuable tool in our fight against the opioid epidemic and the scourge of drug addiction impacting our communities,” said Bevin. “The strategic geographic locations of our 16 KSP posts will allow ready access for individuals across the commonwealth who are seeking help.

“Breaking the cycle of addiction will require increased efforts by many, and innovative public-private collaborations like the Angel Initiative have the power to transform the lives of Kentuckians and communities we live in.”

Lethal overdoses claimed more than 1,400 lives in Kentucky in 2016, a 7.4 percent increase from the prior year. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin, was a factor in 623 deaths, while heroin contributed to 456 deaths.

In 2017, KSP designated posts in Pikeville and Richmond to serve as pilot projects for the Angel Initiative. Local KSP captains in those areas built partnerships with treatment and medical programs, faith-based initiatives and federal, state and local law enforcement.

KSP Commissioner Rick Sanders said launching the Angel Initiative on a statewide scale will not be without its challenges.

“People have to learn to trust the program and understand that they are not under threat of arrest as long as they seek help by voluntarily turning themselves in at a KSP post,” Sanders said.

“However, if a person is pulled over or otherwise apprehended by state police and is found to be under the influence of, or in possession of drugs, they will be arrested.

“This is not being soft on crime; it’s being smart on crime. … When those suffering from addiction are released from prison without any treatment, our prisons become revolving doors. If our communities are ever to be free of the cycle of addiction, treatment is necessary.”