Local sheriff's office looking to help drug addicts, not arrest them
HAMMOND - Law enforcement officials in Tangipahoa Parish are trying something new when it comes to cracking down on drug use.
"The different approach is instead of arresting everybody with the problem, let's try to offer them treatment," Tangipahoa Sheriff Daniel Edwards said.
The new initiative is called 'Operation Angel', it's a program designed to allow addicts to walk into any substation or police department in the parish and turn in drugs and paraphernalia without facing any charges.
"It is a one-stop shop, as far an individual who has a serious addiction being able to go to 1: detox, and 2: recovery program on the back end of that that can last up to a year," Edwards said.
Just last year, there were 45 drug-related deaths in the area.
"That number was up 20 percent last year over the year before. So we do not expect this to slow down any time soon," Edwards said.
Edwards says the number of overdoses is in the thousands and it's time for that number to decline.
"It is a tough battle, there is no easy fix to this," District Attorney Scott Perriloux said.
Women and men will be taken to specific treatment centers and the rehab would come at no cost, with all funding coming from donations.
"It's a long-term commitment," Perriloux said.
Sheriff Edwards says he has faith the program will prove to be a success.
"If you only save one life, it's certainly worthwhile. But I think moving forward we will save many more lives than that," Edwards said.
Operation Angel is open to anyone who wants help. More information can be found here.