Christine CorradoMar 1, 2017, 5:45 pmMar 2, 2017, 8:35 am

CLEAR initiative tackles opioid addiction in White Plains

Initiative will allow individuals to turn over drugs in exchange for amnesty of arrest and then help

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The issue of narcotics addiction is a growing problem in the Lower Hudson Valley. The city of White Plains has seen NarCan, the antidote to a heroin overdose, used 41 times in the past year.

"We have seen even in the city of White Plains people that are addicted to this and we understand and we know that arresting people that are addicts is not really the right solution," said David Chong, the city’s Public Safety Commissioner.

To help stem the epidemic, the White Plains Community Law Enforcement Addiction Recovery initiative, or C.L.E.A.R., launched Wednesday. It is a coalition of agencies coming together to help individuals with drug problems. The new initiative will allow individuals to turn over drugs with amnesty of arrest and then help.

"If you’re addicted to opioids or if you’re addicted to anything and you want to turn yourself into us we will not incarcerate you,” said Commissioner Chong. “We will not judge you, and we will turn you in to the right direction and make sure you get help."

When an addict walks into the police department in White Plains, police can call recovery specialists from the SOBA College Recovery and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), who will immediately sit down with the addict and help them navigate the treatment system.

"We help them locate a bed, we do a nonclinical assessment, we see where they need to go,” said Joel Pomales of SOBA. “Do they need to go to detox or treatment? We help them get connected to that facility and we will also follow them as well."

"I don’t want to see them so deteriorated they cannot function, they lose their job, they lose their family,” Joan Bonsignore of the Westchester NCADD. “We can avoid that. We are offering a solution."

Advocates from the program say they have already tried this out with the Harrison Police Department, and they hope to utilize the service at other departments throughout our area to effectively end addiction.

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