Dateline: On Assignment Sunday at 7 p.m., NBC
In New England, we’ve heard plenty about the opioid crisis and Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello’s groundbreaking approach to it, his Angel Initiative.
On Sunday, NBC will shine a national spotlight on the program, which encourages addicts to show up at the police station for help and legal immunity. Here’s what it says on the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative website: “Any addict who walks into the police station with the remainder of their drug equipment (needles, etc.) or drugs and asks for help will NOT be charged. Instead we will walk them through the system toward detox and recovery. We will assign them an ‘angel’ who will be their guide through the process. Not in hours or days, but on the spot.”
The NBC piece — it’s short, about 10 minutes — follows a woman named Cassandra, who is trying to take advantage of the program. It also follows Nathan, who showed up at the station many months ago. Both stories are powerful, in very different ways.
“If you’re going to accept it as a disease, you’ve got to accept that relapse is part of it,” Campanello says to NBC’s Josh Mankiewicz. “It’s not a perfect program. It’s a step toward treating the underlying cause of the crime.”