Rolling Meadows Second Chance program attracts 8 or 9 addicts
Since it began in October of last year, eight or nine Rolling Meadows residents have taken advantage of the police department's Second Chance program -- the groundbreaking effort to get drug addicts into treatment instead of jail if they ask police for help.
The addicts have called or come into the police station, said Commander Tom Gadomski, and all of them have been placed immediately with a treatment program rather than arrested on drug charges.
"(Eight or nine) is not a huge number, but it's more than I expected," Gadomski said of Second Chance, which targets the suburban heroin crisis.
"It just shows how serious the problem is. These people have no where else to turn and we jump at the chance to provide them the help they need."
As recently as Tuesday night someone came into the department asking for help getting clean. Gadomski said the person turned in his drug paraphernalia, which the department impounds and destroys.
Rolling Meadows studied a similar program in Gloucester, Massachusetts before starting the Second Chance program late last year under former Police Chief Dave Scanlan.
Gadomski said officials from other suburban police departments have come to Rolling Meadows to quiz them on Second Chance's effectiveness. On Wednesday Lake County officials announced a similar effort, called "A Way Out."
"This is a concept that works and it's exciting that more departments are understanding the importance," Gadomski said.
Rolling Meadows has a social worker who follows up on the cases. Not every addict has successfully weaned himself or herself off drugs after one course of treatment, and some don't complete treatment, Gadomski said. But, he says, they are all still alive.
"If we save a few people then it's worth everything,"
Also, Rolling Meadows was recently accepted into a Cook County program where grant money will buy police naloxone dispensers to carry on patrol.
Naloxone is increasingly used by law enforcement to save the lives of people who are in the throes of an opioid overdose.