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New Castle Co. 'Hero Help' program to get full-time leadership

New Castle County is getting new funds to boost a program that’s helping address the opioid crisis locally.

A nearly $120,000 grant from the University of Baltimore will allow New Castle County Police to hire a full-time coordinator for its Hero Help Program.

Hero Help launched in May 2016, allowing officers to refer people with addiction problems committing non-violent, victimless crimes to a voluntary treatment program rather than arrest them.

In its first 19 months, it expanded to include people who initially decline the referral, then reconsider or simply come to County Police seeking help.

“This will allow us to take our Hero Help program to the next level, by bringing on a civilian who will be dedicated full time to the position and to the responsibilities," said New Castle County Police Chief Col. Vaughn Bond.

62 people have used the program so far, with the majority if them, 47, coming into the program without any possible criminal charges  involved.

New Castle County Police Major Robert McLucas, who currently oversees the program, says this new position will help ensure the caseload can be handled.

“We very pleased that we have the coordinator position because everyone was doing this from a part-time capacity.  And we know it takes full-time resources because epidemic isn’t going way,” said Major McLucas.

County officials also expect a full time coordinator will help improve outreach and awareness. About $15,000 of the grant will pay for outreach and advertising efforts.

McLucas says the program's primary goal is to get people the help they need as they battle addiction, but he adds it also helps decrease crime.

"The majority of people suffering from addiction are not committing crimes, but what we do know is property crime is heavily driven by those suffering from addiction," said Major Mc Lucas. "So if you're getting people into treatment, those that are commit crimes as well, you're going to reduce the number of [property crime] victims."

New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer says this program is one example of how the county is trying to address what he calls the "public health crisis of our generation."

"Every individual facing the disease of addiction makes a number of decisions about the direction in which they want their life to go," said Meyer.  "Today, what we're saying is we're committing resources so that they don't have to make those decisions alone."

The grant will also pay for an additional 300 Narcan kits that will be made available to overdose victims and their family members.  Narcan is a drug which can reverse the effects of overdose.  

Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for three decades. He joined Delaware Public Media in 2010 as our first news director and has guided the news team ever since. When he's not covering the news, he can be found reading history or pursuing his love of all things athletic.
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