About The HOPE Initiative
The HOPE (Heroin – Opioid Prevention Effort) Initiative is the first statewide program that engages law enforcement personnel in a proactive outreach strategy to combat the opioid overdose epidemic. The HOPE Initiative partners substance use professionals and members of law enforcement with the mission of reaching out to those who are at risk of overdosing to encourage them to be assessed and treated.READ MORE
With 314 overdose deaths in 2018, Rhode Island is at the epicenter of the opioid crisis. As leaders in the community, law enforcement has a unique and critical role in preventing overdoses and saving lives by helping to erase the stigma around addiction and change the conversation around substance use disorder. Importantly, those who need help are often known to law enforcement and helping individuals into treatment will promote a healthier and safer community.
The HOPE Initiative is coordinated through the Rhode Island State Police in partnership with municipal police departments across the state. Members from various law enforcement agencies throughout the state are trained to perform HOPE Initiative work while not on duty at their own agency. Law enforcement personnel working for the HOPE Initiative will be in plainclothes.
The HOPE Initiative outreach effort is modeled after successful single-jurisdiction programs from across the country, but Rhode Island’s size and collaborative law enforcement community allows for the deployment of local personnel across jurisdictions, creating the only statewide program in the country.
Why Law Enforcement
The possession and use of illicit opioids is illegal, but we know we can’t arrest our way out of this problem. Law enforcement efforts around opioids have historically focused on trying to impact supply by cracking down on those trafficking illicit opioids in our communities. These efforts continue but we know that to be effective we need to also reduce demand for opioids with education and by helping people with substance use disorder get treatment.
Many individuals suffering from opioid use disorder are known to law enforcement because they support their drug habit through petty crime and low-level drug sales.
In fact, in the U.S. about 4 in 10 people incarcerated for property offenses committed the crime to get drugs or money to buy drugs.
By helping more Rhode Islanders towards recovery, we will drive down demand, lower the crime rate and make our communities safer and healthier.
Our team is made up of substance use clinicians, peer recovery coaches, and state and local law enforcement officers.