The City of Anaheim Launches New Recovery Program Initiative

By Paul Gaita 01/05/17

The initiative is modeled after the successful PAARI program from Gloucester. 

Inside the Anaheim Police Department
Photo via Anaheim Police Dept/YouTube

The city of Anaheim, California, has made good on a promise to provide greater assistance to individuals in need of treatment, by announcing the launch of its Drug Free Anaheim program.

Beginning this week, any person currently without an arrest warrant or under the influence may find help at any Anaheim police station or by contacting a city police officer. The police will then connect them with representatives from Social Model Recovery Systems, a non-profit that connects individuals seeking help with drug or alcohol issues with direct treatment services. 

Drug Free Anaheim, which was announced by Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait in February 2016, is modeled after the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative's "Angel" program, which assisted more than 500 individuals and reduced crime by 27% since its launch in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 2015. Its success spurred more than 150 police agencies in 28 states to launch similar programs.

Police departments using the PAARI model in Maine, North Carolina, Ohio and Illinois have also provided crucial help to substance users, and have seen lower rates of drug-related crimes and overdose deaths—though some critics have noted that the programs have not inspired as many participants to turn in drugs in exchange for immunity as hoped.

"I'm confident this innovative program will fill the much-needed gap in our ongoing efforts to identify ways to reduce and prevent crime," said Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada. "Drug addiction plays far too large a role in criminal activity, and we must collectively do everything that we can to reduce the number of people in our families, neighborhoods, and community suffering from this physical and emotional dependency."

The city of Anaheim is currently finalizing its contract with Social Model Recovery Systems, which will be funded with narcotics asset forfeiture funds. Social Model Recovery Systems will screen potential participants and connect them with treatment, as well as the funds to help them pay for such care.

City Hall and law enforcement representatives are both hoping that Drug Free Anaheim will produce results similar to that in Gloucester in regard to both treatment options and crime reduction.

"Addiction causes so many problems in this city," said Mayor Tait. "This is a holistic way of treating it. Nobody wants to be an addict. But sometimes they just can't quit, so if somebody is in that situation, they can come to the Anaheim Police Department. And we're going to help you."

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.