Cape Coral police launch “HOPE” program to prevent opioid deaths

Cape Coral police are working on getting dangerous drugs off the streets. They say 51 people in the city died because of drugs in 2018.

Forty-five of those deaths involved fentanyl use, a drug that’s up to 100 times more potent than morphine.

But now, the police chief is rolling out a way to bring those numbers down.

Adam Armstrong is a recovering heroin addict and says, “I’ve lost so many people.”

Now, he’s more than three years sober, but he’s seen the toll opioids can take on the community.

Police are working to stop in Cape Coral what has become a nationwide epidemic.

Chief David Newlan announced Wednesday; he’s implementing a program called Heroin Opioid Prevention Education (HOPE).

Newlan said the program is aimed at reducing the number of deadly overdoses due to opioids, “We want to help those who want help and aren’t sure where to go.”

So what if someone does ask for help? Will they be arrested?

“It depends on the circumstances,” Newlan said. “If we’re dealing with someone who asks for help, that’s a little different. If you’re dealing with someone in a criminal investigation, it depends on the circumstances.”

However, someone asks for help; the chief is hoping the change will help reduce recidivism, decrease future crimes, and overdose deaths.

After at least 25 people have overdosed in Cape Coral this year alone – 24 of those involved fentanyl.

Though Armstrong doesn’t live in Cape Coral, he says, “It takes once, and it’s over.”

He says anything that can be done to save lives is a step in the right direction.

“Don’t give up, and don’t give in.”

There’s a second program called “HELP” which is Help Educate Loving Parents.

That’ll be used to look for signs and symptoms of drug use and connect them with resources to help those dealing with addiction.

Cape Coral is hoping these programs can inspire other communities to start their own initiative, too.

Reporter:Channing Frampton
Writer:Derrick Shaw
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