OSWEGO – Mayor Billy Barlow announced the creation and implementation of the Rapid Evaluation for Appropriate Placement (REAP) program in the city of Oswego.
The REAP program is a revolutionary approach to combating illegal drug use that recognizes addiction as a disease which can benefit from medical intervention and treatment.
The program consists of a partnership forged between the city of Oswego Police Department, the Oswego County District Attorney’s Office and Farnham Family Services, a New York State licensed, private, not-for-profit organization serving people with substance use disorders by providing high quality, recovery-oriented, outpatient treatment and prevention services.
The REAP program will provide assistance to members of the Oswego community suffering from heroin, opiate and drug addiction using a three-prong approach: Enforcement, Education and Treatment.
The program allows persons to enter the city of Oswego Police Department voluntarily to actively seek help with their addiction.
Through an agreement with the Oswego County District Attorney’s Office, any person who enters the Police Department for screening into the REAP Program will not be criminally charged for possession of drugs and/or paraphernalia that are willfully turned over to police for destruction or retrieved as a result of the request for help through the program.
After conducting the REAP screening and determining that a person is qualified to participate in the program, the Oswego Police Department will coordinate with Farnham Family Services to schedule an evaluation for the participant and provide support for appropriate treatment placement based on results of the evaluation.
“The REAP program extends a helping hand to those in our community at a time when they need it most,” Mayor Barlow said. “When a member of our community makes the conscious and active decision to get help and better their self, I believe their local government should be there to help. By allowing people to willfully forfeit drugs without fear of being arrested, we have the ability to directly link a person to the appropriate level of care they need. By partnering with Farnham Family Services and District Attorney Greg Oakes, we have given people a clear path to assistance, and we have begun treating addiction like the disease it is.”
“We must take action in an effort to get drugs off our streets and out of our neighborhoods. We also must encourage and assist those struggling with addiction and drug abuse to get the help they desperately need. The REAP program accomplishes both of these goals by making the necessary help more accessible than ever without a cost to the city,” Barlow continued.
Eric Bresee, executive director of Farnham Family Services said, “I am proud to live and work in a community where our leaders think progressively and are willing to implement new and innovative approaches for citizens to get help. Increasing opportunities to engage in treatment is a key strategy in developing the gateway to recovery and impacting public health.”
Bresee added, “Farnham Family Services is continuously looking for ways to break down barriers and increase accessibility. Mayor Barlow, Chief DeCaire and District Attorney Oakes are paving the road to recovery through activating our most visible and accessible community resource as a treatment entry point.”
“As District Attorney and Coroner, I have personally witnessed the devastating impact of the heroin and opioid epidemic on our community. Addiction has claimed far too many lives, and I want to thank Mayor Barlow for his leadership in recognizing that this epidemic impacts both public health and public safety. I’m proud that the District Attorney’s Office can partner with the Oswego Police Department and Farnham on this initiative, as it has the potential to save lives,” said District Attorney Greg Oakes.
“I think that it’s vitally important for the members of our community to know that, as a police department, we are here to help,” Police Chief Tory DeCaire said. “People should feel comfortable coming to us in their time of need without the fear of arrest. Thanks to the cooperative effort of Farnham’s Eric Bresee, Oswego County District Attorney Greg Oakes and the leadership of Mayor Billy Barlow, we now have an opportunity to take direct action against the disease of drug addiction in our community, while focusing our law enforcement efforts on the dealers who are profiting from other people’s addiction.”
The REAP program also allows the parents or guardians of children less than 18 years of age to request a police officer to a specific location to intervene and initiate the REAP program if drug use is suspected or known.