KSP Angel Initiative responds to drug epidemic amidst pandemic
FRANKFORT, Ky.(WTVQ) – The Kentucky State Police (KSP) Angel Initiative is a proactive program designed to help people battle addiction.
The program, available at all 16 KSP post locations, temporarily paused in April while the agency developed safety protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wednesday, the Kentucky State Police announced the doors have reopened to assist in the fight against the drug epidemic, with CDC guidelines in place to help mitigate the spread of the virus amongst the public and KSP dispatchers and Troopers.
“My administration shares the concerns of many regarding the challenges presented by the war against the novel coronavirus and understand that the pandemic has played a role in increasing the risk for substance use and overdose deaths,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “In 2016, KSP launched the Angel Initiative, through funding from the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP). This program is one the many treatment and resources available in Kentucky. Anyone suffering from a substance use disorder can visit a KSP post and be paired with a local officer who will assist with locating an appropriate treatment program. It’s important to realize that we all possess the power to help save lives.”
KSP and ODCP, departments under the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet’s authority and responsibility, remain as joined forces in a united effort to provide access to drug treatment to confront this epidemic and save Kentucky lives.
Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Mary Noble said the Angel Initiative is a strong example of ‘Team Kentucky’.
“There is no doubt that the nationwide opioid crisis is hitting Kentucky at an alarming rate,” said Secretary Noble. “When two agencies pool their resources together, we are better able, as one team, to help Kentuckians battling addiction. Every life saved from substance abuse and opioid death is a life worth fighting for.”
According to ODCP’s 2019 annual report, drug addiction claimed the lives of 1,316 Kentuckians. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, was involved in 759 cases, approximately 58 percent of all overdose deaths for the year.
“We believe the increase is due to a rise in illicit fentanyl and its analogs within the drug supply. The problem is also exacerbated by the widespread availability of potent inexpensive methamphetamine,” said ODCP Executive Director Van Ingram. “OCDP is devoted to changing the way substance abuse is handled in Kentucky, reducing the problem and making the commonwealth a model for other states.”
The Angel Initiative is completely voluntary, and individuals will not be arrested or charged with any violations if they agree to participate in treatment. Danielle Perkins, KSP Angel Initiative Program Administrator, says if an individual comes to a KSP post for assistance, they can safely dispose of the drugs or contraband they may have in their possession, without threat of arrest.
“The Angel Initiative’s mission is to help addicts when they need it the most and fortunately, we can once again welcome those seeking help to our posts,” said Perkins.
Any individuals seeking help at a KSP post must adhere to the following ‘Healthy at Work’ safety guidelines. The posts are open to the public Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.
Angel Initiative COVID-19 Guidelines:
- Gloves and masks must be worn by both the angel coordinator (trooper) and the participant seeking assistance at all times while inside the post.
- Participants must have their temperature taken and complete a COVID-19 questionnaire prior to entering the post.
- Participants must enter the building alone. Accompanying support systems must remain outside or in their vehicle.
- If an individual seeking help has been exposed to COVID-19, KSP asks that they call their local post prior to arriving on site. The Angel Initiative program will not turn the individual away, but do their best to find resources that meet their current situation.
“Having the strength to ask for help is the first step to healing. We are not here to arrest or belittle anyone, we are here to serve,” added Perkins.
Since the program began in 2016, the Angel Initiative has facilitated the placement of 198 individuals who asked for help in treatment. The agency is currently developing a special portal through their mobile app that will link those seeking help to treatment centers, without having physical contact.
For more information about the Angel Initiative, visit the KSP website at http://kentuckystatepolice.org/angel-initiative/