Three N.J. police departments to learn how to identify families dealing with addiction

State officials are launching a program that trains law enforcement and social service providers on how to identify families dealing with addiction.

(Asbury Park Police Department)

(Asbury Park Police Department)

Law enforcement and social service providers in three areas of New Jersey will soon be able to better recognize when children and families have been affected by addiction. They will also know how to interact with them and connect them to the help they need.

Officials announced the launch of a pilot program called the Child Trauma Response Initiative that will be piloted in Asbury Park, Millville, and Plainfield. The program will be a joint effort between the Department of Children and Families, Human Services, and the Attorney General’s Office Division of Public Safety.

Christine Norbut Beyer, the state commissioner for children and families, said they would get involved in “a few different areas.”

“It could be where a parent or another adult in a household has overdosed, a parent or other adult household member has been arrested on drug-related charges, when law enforcement maybe responds to a domestic violence incident involving children where drugs are also involved,” she said, explaining the different scenarios where the training will focus, particularly when children are involved. The goal, she adds, is to “get necessary services on the scene for children who could be impacted where that kind of an event would be traumatic.”

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The program, which will last for at least a year, will receive $2 million from the state’s share of a settlement with McKinsey & Company, a global consulting firm. The company was accused of helping to “turbocharge” sales of the opioid painkiller OxyContin. The settlement reached last year with 47 states and the District of Columbia is $573 million. New Jersey’s share is $16 million.

The three municipalities were selected based on data, according to Beyer – the number of overdoses and drug or substance-related issues. They also wanted to establish a location in the state’s three regions and work with departments open to participating in the pilot.

Beyer says the Attorney General’s Office is in the process of hiring someone to oversee the project and expects the program to be launched soon.

“I don’t know if they have somebody in mind already, but that would potentially take a couple of months,” she said. “I certainly expect before the end of this calendar year that we’ll already be out providing service.”

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