Operation Helping Hand is an initiative targeting the heroin and opioid crisis in Bergen County. The initiative, which recently ran for the fourth time, brought together Bergen County resources to help those suffering from addiction in Bergen County.
Individuals were offered an opportunity to speak to a Recovery Specialist and seek assistance. If an individual requested help, a trained clinician determined the appropriate level of care and treatment needed. Then, the clinician, working closely with the Recovery Specialists and representatives from New Bridge Medical Center, made arrangements for appropriate treatment.
Nineteen individuals opted for treatment with the majority in 5-day detox programs, mostly at New Bridge Medical Center. After detox, long term treatment options are arranged and their progress is tracked.
Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office
To: ALL NEWS MEDIA
From: ACTING PROSECUTOR DENNIS CALO
Date: MARCH 19, 2018
“OPERATION HELPING HAND 4”
Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Dennis Calo announced today the results of “Operation Helping Hand 4” – the fourth phase of an innovative law enforcement and public health initiative targeting the heroin and opioid crisis in Bergen County. The initiative was led by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office (“BCPO”), under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Calo and Chief of Detectives Robert Anzilotti, in coordination with Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco III and Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino. Held from March 12 through 16, 2018, the initiative brought together Bergen County law enforcement from 30 agencies, Recovery Specialists from Children’s Aid and Family Services, clinicians and specialists from the Bergen County Department of Health Services, Division of Addiction Services, and professionals from New Bridge Medical Center to offer help to those suffering from the disease of addiction in Bergen County.
During the initiative, 37 individuals were arrested and brought to the BCPO to be processed. After they were issued summonses, largely for heroin possession, they were offered an opportunity to speak to a Recovery Specialist – a recovering addict, who has been clean and is trained to help them find treatment. This offer of help was in addition to, not in lieu of, criminal charges.
If the individual requested help, a trained clinician from the Bergen County Division of Addiction Services assessed him/her to determine the appropriate level of care and treatment needed. The clinicians, working closely with the Recovery Specialists and representatives from New Bridge Medical Center, then made arrangements for treatment, and law enforcement transported the individual to treatment.
Of the 37 individuals arrested during Operation Helping Hand 4, 19 have so far availed themselves of the treatment option, including 12 who are currently in 5-day detox programs, mostly at New Bridge Medical Center. As those individuals complete detox, longer-term treatment options are being arranged for them and their progress is being tracked by the Recovery Specialists. For those who did not avail themselves of treatment, the Recovery Specialists remain in touch with many of them and are prepared to offer help whenever they are ready to seek it.
A multi-jurisdictional task force comprised of law enforcement officers from the following agencies, under the direction of BCPO Chief Anzilotti, participated in the initiative: Bergen County Sheriff’s Office; Bergenfield Police Department; Cliffside Park Police Department; Clifton Police Department; Dumont Police Department; East Rutherford Police Department; Englewood Police Department; Elmwood Park Police Department; Fair Lawn Police Department; Garfield Police Department; Glen Rock Police Department; Hackensack Police Department; Lyndhurst Police Department; Mahwah Police Department; Morris County Prosecutor’s Office; New Milford Police Department; Norwood Police Department; Paramus Police Department; Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office; Paterson Police Department; Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Ridgefield Park Police Department; Saddle River Police Department; Tenafly Police Department; Union County Prosecutor’s Office; Upper Saddle River Police Department and the Westwood Police Department.
Statistics compiled by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office indicate an increase in opioid use and drug overdoses in Bergen County from 2016 to the present. A preliminary analysis of overdose data by the BCPO Intel Unit and Narcotics Task Force revealed the following with respect to 2017:
- 507 total reported overdoses, 416 of which are currently identified as heroin/opioid-related.
- Of the 308 reported overdoses, 131 were fatal overdoses; 111 of those were identified as heroin/opioid-related.
- 325 deployments of Narcan, the overdose reversal drug, by law enforcement officers, resulting in 245 lives saved. (Note: there were many other deployments – by parents, friends, family members, EMTs and in the ER that are not accounted for in this analysis.)
Acting Prosecutor Dennis Calo stated that “Operation Helping Hand 4 is part of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and Bergen County law enforcement’s continuing effort to combat the opioid epidemic and help those who are affected by it. The Operation demonstrates the close cooperation of law enforcement, County government and Bergen County social service organizations in the fight against this epidemic and the results that are possible through that cooperation. We will continue the fight.”