Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $504,063)
With the support of the COSSAP Grant Program, the Fitchburg Police Department will create the Fitchburg Outreach Initiative in partnership with Community Health Link, Worcester. Community Health Link, Inc is a multi-faceted social and behavioral service agency that provides detox services, inpatient clinics, outpatient clinics, 24/7 urgent care for substance abuse disorders, homeless shelter, mental health services, recovery services for youth and family support services. The Fitchburg Outreach Initiative will hire a full time substance abuse clinician to be embedded within the police department to respond to opioid overdose, substance abuse disorders (SUD) and co-occurring disorders in the City of Fitchburg. The clinician will follow the LEAD/PAARI models and provide follow-up and post encounter outreach to overdose survivors and their families. Additionally, this program will divert low level offenders experiencing substance abuse disorders away from the criminal justice system into treatment when it is safe and appropriate to do so. The Fitchburg Outreach Initiative will also launch an educational campaign highlighting prevention and resources available to families and survivors. The City of Fitchburg is a diverse community of over 40,000 residents and is a former mill town located in North Central Massachusetts. The Fitchburg Police Department responds to an average of 200 nonfatal opioid related overdose calls per year, 200 drug complaints, and dozens of fatal overdose calls each year. Fitchburg experiences a higher opioid fatality rate than surrounding communities. The City lacks necessarily resources and treatment options for overdose survivors and survivors lack transportation to and from recovery appointments. All of these concerns are addressed in the Fitchburg Outreach Initiative through the department’s partnership with Community Health Link.