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About the MSP Angel Program

For decades, police officers have been on the front lines of the war on drugs. To disrupt an ever-increasing supply chain, police officers often find themselves arresting drug addicts as much, if not more, than drug dealers and traffickers. In the meantime, heroin and opioid addiction has become a severe public health concern in the United States, destroying and often ending lives (a national average of 47,000 each year). In 2018, Michigan had 2,599 deaths from drug overdoses (nearly three times that of car crashes).

In June 2015, the Gloucester, Massachusetts Police Department developed a revolutionary new way to fight the war on drugs by doing something about the demand, not just the supply. Under this plan, drug addicts who seek help are placed in a recovery program rather than face arrest and jail time. 

Because of the success of the Gloucester Police Department and the huge demand for information, the non-profit Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) was established to support the Gloucester Police addiction initiative, to aid other police departments to implement similar programs, and to foster a dialogue around the unique opportunity for police departments to take direct action against the disease of drug addiction in their communities.

In 2016, the MSP partnered with PAARI to look at bringing the Angel Program to Michigan to better assist individuals who wish to seek treatment for substance use disorders (including alcoholism). The MSP Angel Program was launched as a pilot in November 2016 at the Gaylord Post. MSP also applied for and received a $5,000 grant from PAARI, to help with defraying the costs of advertising, stocking the posts with Angel Kits, and providing travel reimbursement for Angels. By December 2017, the MSP Angel Program was operating at all 30 posts. The MSP was the first state law enforcement agency in the nation to implement an Angel Program statewide.

The program allows any person who enters a MSP post and requests help with his or her addiction to be screened for potential participation without fear of being arrested for their drug/alcohol use or current possession.

Working with our partners including PAARI, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Prepaid Inpatient Health Plans, the Northern Michigan Opioid Response Consortium (NMORC), local law enforcement agencies, and treatment centers, the MSP now supports a three prong approach to combatting illegal drugs and substance use disorder:

  1. Prevention/Education
  2. Treatment (Angel Program)
  3. Enforcement