The Lower Saucon Township Police Department announced Monday that it is partnering with the Northampton County Heroin and Opioid Task Force in an expansion of the Police Assisting in Recovery Program (PAIR).
Along with the Tatamy, Bethlehem Township and Bushkill Township police departments, Lower Saucon has joined the program in an effort to assist residents with substance use disorders by connecting them with drug and alcohol treatment providers. PAIR was already available through the City of Bethlehem, Easton, Bangor and Colonial Regional police departments.
PAIR allows an individual struggling with a substance use disorder to walk into a participating police department seven days a week from 8 a.m. to midnight and ask for assistance. Residents can also call the Lower Saucon Township Police Department at 610-317-6110 (LSTPD headquarters) or 610-759-2200 (the Northampton County non-emergency line) to ask for help.
If a person visits the police department and has drugs or paraphernalia in his possession and turns it over at that time, he will not be arrested, he will not be charged with a crime and he will not be incarcerated. However, if the individual has an active warrant or warrants out for their arrest, it will be served at that time, according to the LSTPD’s brochure about PAIR.
The police department will then arrange for a professional to complete a drug and alcohol assessment of the individual and assist with finding a treatment facility for them. A peer recovery support specialist will also be provided to help support the individual during their recovery process.
PAIR was developed by the Gloucester, Mass., police department in 2015 as a new way to fight the war on drugs, and is now being implemented in more than 200 communities across the country, according to a news release.
“PAIR is unique in that it brings law enforcement, drug and alcohol treatment providers and individuals seeking treatment together in an effort to reduce heroin and opioid use,” it stated.
Heroin and opioid overdoses are a common occurrence in Pennsylvania, with Northampton County recording 70 overdose deaths in 2018.
At least 10 Pennsylvanians die of opioid or heroin overdoses each day.
“Although some strides have been made through education, the availability of naloxone and the implementation of a prescription drug monitoring program, far too many individuals are still overdosing and dying from overdoses,” the news release about PAIR stated.
Funding for the PAIR program was made possible with grants from Two Rivers Health & Wellness Foundation and Northampton County Drug & Alcohol.