Two-month Orange County drug probe nets 50 arrests

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David Jolly (podium): “mandated treatment”

GOSHEN – Orange County law enforcement officials and healthcare professionals said there needs to be a continued focus on treatment for opioid addicted individuals following a countywide drug bust.
Officials announced on Thursday that a 60-day sweep, involving 16 police agencies dubbed “Operation Joint Endeavor” yielded 50 arrests, half charged with heroin and/or fentanyl possession, while the others were charged for possession of crack cocaine and pharmaceuticals.
Three handguns were also confiscated in the operation that spanned the entire county.
District Attorney David Hoovler said although the operation represents an enforcement approach to this situation, where drug court, diversion and treatment would be ideally be employed, the results show the scourge and supply of drugs are too far reaching for that approach all the time.
“We need better treatment,” said Hoovler. “We need more medically assisted treatment. We need to have a better understanding of recovery and people in recovery that reduce the stigma of people that are addicted. I think that’s key. We focus on education, prevention, as much treatment as we can and enforcement, and you’re seeing the enforcement today.”  
Officials said there’s a real issue with not only addiction stigmatization and availability of treatment, but getting individuals to accept treatment that is offered to them, especially in cases involving opioids where the drug has a very strong hold on them. With that information, officials are turning to healthcare providers.
David Jolly, CEO of Cornerstone Family Healthcare, a practice that offers
medication-assisted treatment to opioid addicts, said they recognize that,
in some cases, an arrest can motivate individuals who would otherwise
not seek treatment to get it. It highlights the importance of law enforcement
and healthcare providers having a partnership to address these individuals,
he said.
“How the police interact with that person, most importantly, how the court interacts with that person – by mandating treatment, or mandating a patient to do something – can really act as a vehicle to get a person in the door,” said Jolly. “When the person is in the door, it’s our responsibility to engage them and try to keep them in the door, so I think the partnership has to work. It has to be seamless.”
Officials said a majority of the 50 arrested in the sweep were considered to be low-level, street dealers. Many of them may have been, or still are, eligible for treatment alternatives to incarceration; but, due to causing the majority of community disruption, were targeted this time around.