Plymouth – East Bridgewater Police Chief Scott Allen, Plymouth Police Chief Michael Botieri, Sheriff Joseph McDonald and District Attorney Timothy Cruz sponsored the first-ever joint meeting of all 27 of Plymouth County Outreach’s (PCO) member communities this week. Since December of 2016, all of the county’s Police Departments have been coordinating their efforts in collaboration with one another through PCO along with a host of non-law enforcement partners in combatting the opioid crisis.
Chief Allen and Chief Botieri moderated the PCO monthly meeting, highlighting the ongoing efforts throughout Plymouth County to save lives through innovative approaches to curbing opioid use.
The meeting at the 1620 Hotel in Plymouth marked the first time that all of the community partners from both the northern and southern regions of PCO met together and outlined both the successes they’ve had and the challenges that lie ahead in addressing opioid use on the local level.
“It’s exciting to see all of our partners coming together to work toward the shared goal of curtailing the spread of opioids in our communities,” Chief Allen said.
Among the more than 180 people in attendance were representatives from the offices of Sheriff McDonald, District Attorney Cruz, Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative (PAARI) Executive Director Allie McDade Hunter and former Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and PAARI Board member Gil Kerlikowske, who served as the morning’s keynote speaker.
District Attorney Cruz and Sheriff McDonald formed the Plymouth County Drug Task Force two years ago which now serves as a foundation for the PCO network and its various intiatives.
Also attending Tuesday’s meeting were representatives from Executive Office of Public Safety Secretary Daniel Bennett’s office, representatives from Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, federal officials from HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas), representatives from the FBI, key leaders within the Massachusetts State Police along with the Plymouth County Chiefs of Police and their PCO designated police officers. Several local state senators and state representatives were also in attendance, including Senator Vinny deMacedo and State Representative Geoff Diehl.
The PCO is a collaboration of law enforcement, including probation and drug courts, treatment organizations, hospitals and healthcare partners, the recovery community, faith-based organizations, local coalitions, including the county’s Drop-In Centers in East Bridgewater, Plymouth and Scituate along with the Brockton Champion Plan. All of the PCO partners are working together daily to help those suffering from Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) to access treatment and recovery programs, while also helping family members and loved ones of those suffering from SUDs to access help resources for themselves as well as their loved ones.
Another key component and collaboration of PCO is with the partnership with the county’s school districts in addressing students or families suffering the effects of SUDs while also working on the prevention and education in stopping another generation of youths from suffering through this Opioid epidemic.
Chief Botieri, who coordinated the meeting with the local 1620 Hotel management team stated, “We are overjoyed with today’s meeting turnout of nearly 200 individuals who in the middle of July, committed to attending, sharing and learning about how the PCO model can continue to evolve and help our residents.”
Key speakers from the school-PCO partnership were Plymouth School Superintendent Gary Maestas, East Bridgewater School District Assistant Superintendent Gina Williams and Independence Academy Program Director and Principal Ryan Morgan. Each of educator leaders shared information about the innovative programs that they are presently engaged in within their districts in partnership with their police departments and PCO partners.
Also speaking and in attendance was Bob Hollis, the founder of the newly opened Plymouth Recovery Center on Obery Street in Plymouth. Mr Hollis organized a nonprofit agency to open the center in memory of his son, Rob, who died of an overdose last year. Others speaking included Assistant District Attorney Joseph Janevic, Brockton Area Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative Coordinator Hillary Dubois, EB HOPE Executive Director Susan Silva, and Karen Barry from the Sheriff’s Department.
PCO’s data and research evaluator, Kelly Research Associates (KRA), provided the group with real-time county wide overdose statistics through an innovative, robust information sharing system that they created in partnership with PCO.
University professors and KRA principals, Pam Kelley and Sean Varano, created this system to help PCO law enforcement officers share information about overdose victims for the sole purpose of the officers helping those victims accessing treatment by partnering with their Outreach Recovery teams, which are made up of Recovery Coaches, licensed clinicians and social workers.
The key word of the day was COLLABORATION, highlighted during Mr Kerlikowske’s presentation, as he commended the PCO group as a collective body for setting such a wonderful example of what can be accomplished through this county wide model.
Also helping to sponsor Tuesday’s event in Plymouth was Mr Joseph Napoli of Napoli Management, which owns McDonald’s franchises across the state including in Plymouth County.
Boston 25 ran a news feature on the PCO July 18th meeting during their 6:30 pm newscast.
PAARI also highlighted the successful event with their own media release.