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Police to help people with drug problems, not arrest them

Michigan State Police

People with drug problems can now ask the Cadillac state police for help without fear of being arrested. The Michigan State Police Cadillac post began participating in the Angel Program this month.


People who come to the post are connected with "Angel" volunteers who help link the person with addiction treatment and recovery services.

On it's website, MSP says it's been at the forefront of the war on drugs for decades, often arresting drug addicts along with dealers and traffickers. The Angel Program takes a different approach.

“We just want … [to] provide a very safe environment for people to walk into the post and say, ‘I want to get clean, and I need help.’ And we just want to be there for them," says Trooper Rich Hall, who is in charge of the program at the Cadillac post.

He says if someone were to come to the post with a needle or a bag of heroin with them, state police wouldn't arrest that person. 

"We’re not looking for any drug intelligence at all," says Hall.

The state police would remove the contraband and then contact one of the programs "angels" – a volunteer from the local community– to help. They take down the information of the person looking for help on a non-criminal complaint form, and the volunteer connects the addict with services.

Sex offenders can’t participate, nor can people who have pending warrants or are under investigation. People with drug problems also have to bring themselves there voluntarily. 

The Angel Program started in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 2015. MSP's Gaylord post started the program in northern Michigan last October. So far they've worked with five people.

The state police plans to have the Angel Program at all  Michigan posts by this fall. The Cadillac post serves Wexford, Manistee, Benzie, Leelanau and Grand Traverse counties.

Morgan Springer is a contributing editor and producer at Interlochen Public Radio. She previously worked for the New England News Collaborative as the host/producer of NEXT, the weekly show which aired on six public radio station in the region.