The Covington Police Department is pleased to announce that Chief Tim Lentz has been selected to receive the Bureau of Governmental Research’s Excellence in Government 2018 Innovation Award. BGR is a non-profit, independent research organization dedicated to informed public policy making and the effective use of public resources in the New Orleans Metropolitan Area. Chief Lentz was nominated for the award by Parish President Pat Brister. School Board Supt. Trey Folse also participated in the interview process with the selection committee, recommending Chief Lentz for the award.
The Excellence in Government Awards, a biennial program founded in 1994, recognizes government employees and private citizens for outstanding performance and creative problem-solving that significantly improves local governmental services. Chief Lentz was honored with the Innovation Award for his leadership in creating the Operation Angel Program in St. Tammany Parish.
Like many communities affected by the nationwide opioid epidemic, St. Tammany Parish has seen an increase in opioid-related deaths and drug-related crimes in recent years. In an effort to combat the crisis, Chief Lentz sought alternatives to arresting and jailing drug users, which generally does not break the addiction cycle. Through his efforts, Chief Lentz learned about Operation Angel, a community-based policing program that allows someone addicted to prescription or illegal drugs to seek help from law enforcement. Through this program, anyone suffering from addiction can walk into a police station and ask for help. They can surrender their drugs and be taken by a police officer to a treatment facility, without fear of arrest or prosecution.
In May 2016, with the support of other law enforcement agencies and public officials, Chief Lentz launched Operation Angel in St. Tammany, the only parish in Louisiana presently offering the program. In the first 12 months, 132 people sought help and were taken to a treatment facility by a police officer. Since the program started, of the almost 100 people that have walked into the Covington Police Department and asked for help, 38% of them remain clean and sober today.
City and parish officials have praised Operation Angel for its success, both in saving lives and reducing crime.
In 2016, the City of Covington saw a 14% overall reduction in crime and a 22% reduction in 2017, primarily attributed to a drop in the number of thefts.
Operation Angel remains an integral part of Chief Lentz’s community-based policing philosophy, providing participants with a powerful resource to fight addiction and promoting a safer community for our future.
Chief Lentz would like to thank Parish President Brister, Supt. Folse, and Mayor Cooper for their continued support. For additional information about the Bureau of Governmental Research, visit http://www.bgr.org.