Eastlake Police Department will be starting a new policing program to help people who suffer from drug addictions get help they need instead of going to jail.

The Safe Passage Initiative changes the way people who request help with their addictions to opiates such as heroin and fentanyl are handled.

The program kicks off at 5:30 p.m. June 12 at Eastlake City Hall, 35150 Lakeshore Blvd. Speakers at the event will include Eastlake Police Chief Larry Reik and Sgt. Patrick Green Hill of the Berea Police Department.

According to news release from Eastlake Police Department’s Victim Assistance Program, the Safe Passage Initiative was created to help those with addiction to heroin or opiates into recovery.

“If you need help or know someone who needs helps into recovery from addiction, you just need to come to the station and ask for it,” the release stated. “We are here to you with your steps towards recovery.”

Anyone coming in asking for help will need to complete some paperwork. Following that they will be paired with an advocate that will help guide them through the process.

The police department has partnered with treatment centers to make sure that the patients will receive the care and treatment they deserve, according to the release. Additionally, they facilitate entry to treatment and act as part of a necessary support system.

“All you have to do is come to the station and ask for help. We are here to do just that,” Victims Advocates Katie Granchi and Ruth Marshall said in the release.

Although placement may not be immediate, residents who enter the police station asking for help will be placed into appropriate treatment.

Exceptions that may make someone ineligible for the program include outstanding arrest warrants, three or more drug-related convictions, history of violence, registered sex offender or convicted of sex-related crimes, persons under the age of 18 without parent or guardian consent or a medical condition that may need hospitalization.

Reik said this program was implemented by several departments on the west side of Cleveland, and they have experienced a lot of positive feedback and results.

“We want to provide an option for a person suffering from addiction to have another path towards a cure,” Reik said. If we can have the framework in place for one person to start on the path to recovery then we are all better off. This crisis has affected every facet of our society and every person who beats this makes the society as a whole stronger.”

Published by The News Herald