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Gloucester, Mass., anti-drug strategy

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    Like many communities, the Massachusetts city of Gloucester is grappling with a drug crisis. Its new approach? Amnesty for addicts.

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    Lt. David Quinn of the Gloucester Police Department is in charge of the Angel Program, which gives drug users, namely heroin addicts, amnesty for crimes if they turn in their drugs at the police station and agree to go into treatment.

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    John Rosenthal, co-founder of the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative based in Newton, Mass.: “A lot of people talk about doing something different. This chief (in Gloucester, Mass.) drew a line in the sand and did it.”

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    The city of Gloucester, on Massachusetts’ North Shore, is home to just under 30,000 people. Its new amnesty program for addicts, with its emphasis on treatment over law enforcement, has been described as “a game changer,” and has already been emulated by a dozen police departments nationwide.

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    Chief Leonard Campanello of the Gloucester Police Department: “People have called this (program) everything: brave, gutsy, revolutionary, groundbreaking. ... Since when did extending a hand and helping someone in need, especially for police, become anything more than a responsibility?”

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    Marty Ginivan, a volunteer in Gloucester, Mass.: “(A young man seeking treatment calls his dad) and he puts the phone on speaker. ... The dad told him he was proud of him. And just before he hung up the phone, the dad says to me, ‘Thanks for caring about my son.’ That’s why we do it.”

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