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MSP’s Angel Program marks 3 years connecting the addicted to help

Rather than arresting their way out of the problem, police are offering their departments as life-lines to connect the community to needed rehabilitation resources.
Published: Jan. 22, 2021 at 5:36 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (1/22/2021) - In the last several years, police agencies across Michigan have stepped up in a big way to help those struggling with alcohol or drug addiction.

Rather than arresting their way out of the problem, police are offering their departments as life-lines to connect the community to needed rehabilitation resources.

Michigan State Police’s Angel Program is marking a milestone Friday, celebrating three years of success.

MSP started the Angel Program at just one post in 2016. It’s since expanded to every post across the state, providing help to more than 400 people over the last few years.

“The Angel Program is going into its third anniversary this year; and essentially what it is, is that if anybody is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, they can walk into a state police post and ask for assistance with that addiction,” Lt. Liz Rich explained.

She pointed out in-person contact isn’t possible right now with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so the Angel Program is now operating by phone.

“Because of technology like zoom and teams, we’re able to have more of those conversations. So, I think we’re overcoming and doing the best that we can with the conditions,” she said.

Having been a road-patrol trooper, Lt. Rich knows how needed the option this program creates has been for years.

She shared the story of a Marine veteran addicted to heroin who she couldn’t do much for, except plea with him to return to a rehab facility.

“Law enforcement feels sometimes like their hands are tied when they continually run into the same people that are breaking the law,” Lt. Rich explained. “So, if we have somebody else to reach out to like the Angel Program, then we can actually make a difference. And that’s what most of us are here to do anyways.”

Becoming a participant won’t erase a person’s criminal record. Lt. Rich said a person will still be held accountable for any outstanding charges, but they won’t be turned away because of that.

Knowing not everyone is willing to take that first step to get help, she’s asking family and friends to step up, too.

“Pick up the phone and dial the number for them and be that support that they need, because they need more than just the Angel’s Program to support them,” Lt. Rich added.

If you or a loved one is interested in the program, call 517-284-3208 or click here to visit the program’s website.

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