PAARI Co-Founder Leonard Campanello Resigns

By Victoria Kim 09/20/16

The police chief is currently under investigation for an undisclosed "personal matter."   

PAARI Co-Founder Leonard Campanello Resigns
Photo via MSNBC/YouTube

Police Chief Leonard Campanello has resigned from his role at the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) after he was placed on administrative leave last week by the mayor of Gloucester, Massachusetts. 

PAARI is a program that encourages drug users to go to the police for help, where they will be guided to treatment instead of being arrested. Campanello has been the face of the organization since it was established last year. The novel approach was pioneered in Gloucester, as a response to the city’s worsening opioid overdose problem, through its own PAARI program known as the Angel Program.

The details surrounding Campanello’s leave are vague. The Boston Globe reported that Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken placed the police chief on administrative leave last Tuesday pending an “internal investigation.” John Rosenthal, co-founder and chairman of PAARI, told the Globe that Campanello had been on paid vacation, traveling the country to promote PAARI, when he was placed on leave. 

According to Rosenthal, the investigation has to do with a “personal matter” and nothing to do with PAARI. 

Meanwhile, the Angel Program will continue to operate unchanged while the investigation is underway, said Acting Police Chief David Quinn.

The Fix spoke with Chief Campanello last June, when PAARI was just getting started. “Addicts are ready when they are ready and we just want to make sure that we’re there at that crucial moment when they decide it’s enough and they need to get help,” he said at the time. “We understand people aren’t perfect, we’re not in a position to judge.”

In the 15 months since the program’s inception, it has been adopted by 153 police departments in 27 states so far, according to Rosenthal.

In April, Campanello was honored as a “Champion of Change” at the White House. The Obama administration lauded the Angel Program and PAARI, saying the innovative approach succeeded in reducing “crime and costs associated with substance use disorders in Gloucester” and rebuilding “trust between the police and the community.”

Though Campanello's resignation is somewhat of a setback for PAARI, Rosenthal says Campanello is not worried. “From his standpoint, he didn’t do anything wrong,” said Rosenthal.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr