Covington Police Chief Returns From Washington D.C.

Covington Police Chief Timothy Lentz recently returned from Washington D.C. on invitation by the National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli.  In his own words, here is a report from the Chief on his experience:

Chief Timothy Lentz and National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli
Chief Timothy Lentz and National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli

Yesterday had to be one of the highlights of my career when I was invited to the White House to meet with President Obama’s National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli. I joined Chiefs and Sheriffs from Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Florida, Wisconson, Tennessee, Illinois, and Kentucky to bring awareness to the opioid addiction in our communities and how important the treatment component is. All of the law enforcement officials in attendance agree that we need to create a “State without stigma”. Director Botticelli agrees and stated that “it is not a moral failing when individuals suffer from addiction”. He pledged his continued support to our efforts.

After meeting with Director Botticelli, we rushed (as much as you can in DC traffic at 6:00pm) across town to the offices of Sen. Markey where he had invited Senators to his office to learn more about the heroin problem. Sen. Cassidy was able to join the discussion. (I spoke with Sen. Vitter earlier in the day about the problems we face. He was traveling last night and was unable to join us).

With the Senators, we shared with them the issues law enforcement faces dealing with those suffering from addiction. A big topic of discussion was getting insurance companies to change the way they do business. A powerful example was if someone has cancer and seeks medical attention, the insurance company will treat them for months if not years, but if you are suffering from addiction, you might get 14 days of treatment. That has to change and the Senators agree.

chief lentz chief campanella
Chief Timothy Lentz and Chief Leonard Campanella

Another great part of the trip was meeting Chief Leonard Campanella from the Gloucester Mass Police Dept.. He started the Operation Angel program last year that we modeled our program after. Just a quick update on our Operation Angel, since we launched it May 2nd, 47 people have been referred to the program by law enforcement. 11 remain in the program today! As I explained to the Senators, 47 people in St. Tammany Parish have walked into a police department and asked for help. The didn’t go to the ER, they didn’t go to their Church, they walked into a police department. How desperate are they? Other Chiefs had similar stories.

A special thanks to the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) for bringing us all together in an effort to create a continuum of care for people suffering from addiction.

I am proud to represent our community for such a worthwhile cause and hopefully we can create a community and a State “Without Stigma”

Chief Tim Lentz