Mahwah Police Department; the Paramus Police Department; and the Lyndhurst Police Departments
Paramus NJ, Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal announced today the issuance of a Directive to all county law enforcement agencies concerning the implementation of the “Heroin Addiction Recovery Team” or “HART” program in Bergen County. The program is designed to direct those suffering from the disease of addiction towards treatment options by offering recovery resources at municipal police departments. Pursuant to the Directive, participating departments will establish walk-in hours one day per week staffed by a law enforcement officer and a clinician. Those seeking help, who have personal use quantity of narcotics or drug paraphernalia on their person, will not be charged for having such contraband.
While the Prosecutor’s Directive takes effect immediately, the HART program is being rolled out as a pilot program and only the following Bergen County law enforcement agencies are authorized to participate at this time: the Mahwah Police Department; the Paramus Police Department; and the Lyndhurst Police Department. In the future, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office anticipates authorizing additional agencies to participate in the program. In the meantime, however, these three pilot programs will allow for recovery resources to be available in the northern, middle, and southern part of Bergen County. In the weeks to come, each agency will be announcing its HART day and hours, as well as information concerning the recovery care providers with whom they are partnering.
“Heroin and opioid overdoses continue to rise across our country and across our state, including in Bergen County,” stated Prosecutor Grewal. “This increase is attributable to both an overall rise in the number of individuals abusing heroin and opioids and to an increase in the potency of the heroin being sold in our state, which is often mixed or substituted with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid up to 50 times more powerful than heroin. To combat this growing epidemic, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office has implemented a three-prong approach, which focuses on (1) innovative criminal enforcement, (2) treatment options for addicts, and (3) educational programming to prevent individuals from becoming addicted to opioids and heroin.” Grewal further stated, “The HART program is a natural extension of the BCPO’s efforts to offer treatment options to addicts. It is designed to reduce the impact of heroin and opioid abuse in Bergen County by encouraging those suffering from the disease of addiction to seek help and experience recovery.”
Prosecutor Grewal would like to thank Joseph Masciandaro, the President and Chief Executive Officer of CarePlus New Jersey, and Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg of the Paramus Police Department, for leading the efforts to implement the HART program in Bergen County. In addition, Prosecutor Grewal would like to thank Chief James Batelli of the Mahwah Police Department and Chief James O’Conner of the Lyndhurst Police Department for all of their efforts to battle the County’s heroin and opioid epidemic and for agreeing to participate in this pilot program.