St. Tammany Parish is adopting a new tack in fighting drugs, one that officials hope will put more addicts in treatment and fewer in jail.
Dubbing the new approach Operation Angel, a coalition of law enforcement agencies on the north shore, spearheaded by Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz, is encouraging addicts to go to their local police department or the St. Tammany Sheriff’s Office, turn in any drugs or paraphernalia they have and ask for help.
“You will not be charged with a crime, and we will not ask where you got the drugs from,” Lentz said Monday in announcing the program. “We will connect you with the programs that will give you the help you need.”
Lentz said the program was inspired by a similar effort in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He became aware of it after speaking with Jan Robert, of the Parish President’s Behavioral Health Task Force, he said.
Other agencies and officials participating in the program include the Mandeville, Pearl River, Madisonville, Slidell and Folsom police departments; the Sheriff’s Office; District Attorney Warren Montgomery; Parish President Pat Brister; Coroner Charles Preston; the judges of the 22nd Judicial District Court; the parish school system; and Public Defender John Lindner.