Make a tax deductible donation to help us make this film
Massachusetts is one of the opioid overdose capitals in the country. Chief Fred Ryan of Arlington has tackled the epidemic head-on in his community by shifting his department’s focus from “arrest and prosecution” to “treatment and recovery.” In doing so, he changed the public perception of law enforcement and saved countless lives. He did so by partnering with and embracing a progressive new solution-oriented approach to combatting the public health crisis; the Police Addiction And Recovery Initiative (PAARI). Since implementing this initiative, Arlington has reduced the number of overdose fatalities in the community by more than 50%. As the opiate crisis continues to ravage cities and towns across the nation, Arlington and PAARI have become the gold standard for treatment and care for people with substance use disorder.
As more drugs laced with deadly and addictive Fentanyl hit the streets, the number of opioid overdose deaths in New Bedford, Massachusetts are skyrocketing. Off the heals of Arlington’s success, Chief Joseph Cordeiro is implementing the same program in his town of 94,000, which suffered 450 overdoses and 45 overdose deaths in 2018. PAARI equipped and trained his police officers to administer the life-saving NARCAN® and to then place people suffering from substance use disorder into treatment instead of arresting them. By re-casting the police as saviors rather than incarcerators, Chief Cordeiro will try and reshape community perception of the police, as well as the police’s perception of opioid addiction as a disease rather than a crime. As a result, the New Bedford Police Department hopes to prevent overdose deaths and improve the quality of life in their community.
The documentary feature SERVE & PROTECT will chronicle the New Bedford Police Department as it implements PAARI in their community and tries to duplicate the success of Arlington, Massachusetts. The film will capture the personal stories and struggles of the officers as they are charged with changing the way they do their jobs and changing their own belief systems about substance use disorders. At the same time, the film will chronicle the journey of the people with substance use disorder who are trying to regain their lives and put their trust back in a system that spent decades incarcerating them.
Prescription opioid, heroin and synthetic opioid overdoses killed roughly 72,000 people in the United States in 2017. There are more overdose fatalities in a single year than the numbers of annual deaths from firearms violence, HIV infection or motor vehicle crashes combined.
Since PAARI was founded in 2015, their non-arrest pathway to treatment has been adopted by more than 460 Police departments in 32 states and growing.