Police use new approach to fight heroin epidemic

Posted at 6:22 PM, Feb 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-09 21:28:12-05

Police in the Village of Gowanda want people battling drug addiction to know that they are not the "bad guys."

Instead they want people who wish to get sober to come to them and know they won't be arrested, but they will get help.

The Gowanda Police Department's 'Community Connections' program works to get addicts who come to them seeking help, into treatment right away and provide the ongoing support they need to turn their lives around.

Gowanda has partnered with the Salamanca Police Department, Seneca Strong and other community and health organizations to provide a comprehensive plan of action for anyone suffering from addiction

"We're taking a different approach," said Officer Stephen Raiport of the Gowanda PD. "We're not there to just arrest you, we're here to help you."

One young woman who was recently helped by the program is 18-year-old Megan Irish.

"Reach out for help," said Irish. "Because it will destroy your life no matter what anybody tells you and you will get addicted to it."

Irish started using heroin when she was 16-years-old. She is now two months clean and will work with the Community Connections by sharing her story to offer peer support.