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Combat the Crisis: City of Bristol breaking ‘revolving door’ by offering treatment over arrest

Opioid Crisis

BRISTOL, Conn. (WTNH) — As part of a new program in Bristol, a person in possession of an illegal substance – like opioids – can choose treatment instead of arrest.

The town of Bristol has recently started an initiative in town called COBRA: City OF Bristol Recovery Alliance. Unlike other programs in the state, COBRA is available for those struggling with alcohol as well as opiates.

The Bristol Chief of Police Brian Gould told News 8 that the only way to break the ‘revolving door’ or overdose patients, (EMS responding to calls for the same overdose patients over and over for service to administer Narcan), is to help people with early intervention.

Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu explained that one of the concerns is with the stigma attached to addiction and substance abuse.

“One of our goals is making sure people knew that Bristol was a recovery friendly community, and that we in-turn were here to help”

– Ellen Zappo-Sassu, Mayor of the City of Bristol

Chief Gould said another of the programs goals is to help people get help right way. He explained the steps individuals can take if they need help:

“It allows people to approach a police officer or even come into the Bristol Police Department – which is a safe zone if they are looking for help – and we are able to connect them to the sources right away.

We are partnering with Bristol EMS and Bristol healthcare and we can get them right involved with treatment”

– Bristol Chief of Police Brian Gould

Sharing the stories of residents’ struggles with substance abuse is also part of the initiative. Mayor Sassu explained that the city has a series of 13 public service announcements featuring such stories; the intention being for those struggling to see that they are not alone.

Chief Gould knows that traditional approaches to are not working to treat those struggling anymore. He wants his officers to create an environment in the city that makes people feel safe in approaching law enforcement for help.

“We want to have people feel safe that they can come to us, not worry about being locked up, or being sent through the criminal justice system. It gives officers discretion, and just another tool in their toolbox to help address this crisis.”

– Chief Gould, City of Bristol

News 8 is teaming up with IHeart Media and CT Realtors to help end the stigma of opioid addiction. There is an easy way for you to help!

You can make a one-time $25 donation by texting “CTR25” to 52000. Standard data rates may apply. All donations must be authorized by the account holder. Users must be 18 or older.

All of that money will go toward Combating opioid abuse disorder in Connecticut.

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