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Dec 22, 2015 5:58 PM

Moultonborough police become 1st NH department to adopt addiction outreach program

MOULTONBOROUGH - Police in Moultonborough are launching an addiction outreach and recovery program modeled after successful projects in Massachusetts.

The department is partnering with Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI), a nonprofit that helps police departments adopt the Gloucester department's ANGEL program. Under that program, addicts can come to the police station and be connected to a treatment program if they commit to getting clean.

Chief Leonard Wetherbee said three people have died of an overdose since he came to the department three years ago.

"It's really pretty simple, we're supposed to be here helping people," Whetherbee said, "It's about saving lives."

Officials say the PAARI's nationwide network of treatment facilities will be a plus given that during the summer, the town's population swells with out-of-state tourists. Moultonborough has 4,400 year round residents, Wetherbee said. In the summer he estimates that number to be in the area of 25,000.

"It gives us the ability to reach out a partnering agency down in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and say we have someone that's receiving treatment here or is leaving our jurisdiction and looking for a treatment area but they want to do it at home," Wetherbee said.

Moultonborough police also are drawing on the work of police in Arlington, Massachusetts, who use the lists of customers they get when arresting drug dealers to reach out to addicts and refer them to treatment resources.

Whether praised the efforts by departments around the state, including Laconia, which has also adopted an outreach program.

When asked whether Moultonborough would follow the Angel programs concept that users can walk into the department carrying needles and paraphernalia and not be penalized, Whetherbee wasn't willing to go that far.

"If someone literally walked into the station and said I need help and they had something on them, our first focus would be on help, and we'd deal with other issues later," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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