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Schenectady police introduce new program to help addicts

July 23, 2019 09:54 PM

The Schenectady Police Department officially kicked off a new program on Tuesday morning called Schenectady Cares. It's designed to help people dealing with substance abuse.

Anyone in need of help can now walk into the Schenectady Police Station and ask for help and they will get it.

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Schenectady police have worked closely with the Chatham police chief to set up this program. The Chatham Police Department is considered a pioneer in New York state for police-assisted recovery programs.

Chief Peter Volkmann says his own personal struggle with addiction was the driving force in bringing the program to their town.

"I struggled with trauma, psychological, emotional trauma as a first responder," said Volkmann.

Volkmann says he turned to alcohol and battled the addiction privately. One day, he decided he'd had enough.

"My turnaround moment came and somebody was here for me and reached out their hand and said I can't save you but here's my hand and I took it," said Volkmann.

Now, Volkmann extends his hand to others. Chatham Cares for you and Schenectady Cares work in collaboration with partner organizations to connect addicts with specially trained staff who can help them find a treatment center free of charge. They simply tell an officer they need help and the officer will step into action. It is a judgement-free zone.

"There's lots of people in our community that are suffering in the shadows that need help. We want to make them feel as if they can come to us and ask for that and we'll get it for them," said Lt. Ryan Macheron with the Schenectady Police Department.

"We want to save lives, that's first and foremost the most important thing. The second thing we want to do is we want to reduce the amount of drugs being sold in our community," said Chief Eric Clifford with Schenectady Police.

Chatham Police say in the last three years they've helped 225 people get into recovery. Chief Volkmann says that is a 100 percent success rate so far.

"If you need help for anything, you go to police. Why would this be any different," said Volkmann.

Credits

Jacquie Slater & WNYT Staff

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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