Operation Helping Hand 

Members of the Totowa, Wayne and Woodland Park police departments helped recently assist Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes with “Operation Helping Hand,” an innovative initiative targeting the opioid crisis. 

Members of the Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Task Force recently conducted a one-day street operation, which resulted in nine arrests. “Operation Helping Hand” provides an alternative to immediate incarceration and offers substance abuse treatment. Those arrested were screened by a specialist in an effort to connect them with treatment and recovery services.

All individuals arrested that day accepted substance abuse treatment. They either made arrangements to begin outpatient treatment at a later date or were transported directly to treatment facilities by a member of law enforcement.

“The Woodland Park Police was glad to be a part of the program,” said Acting Police Chief John Uzzalino. “A lot of times people that are suffering from addiction want the help, but do not know or are afraid to find help. This program gives them that opportunity to get the help they need.”

The WPPD will continue to be a part of this program and if anyone is in need of any help from addiction, they can contact Det. Leonard Schaefer at 973-345-8117 or lschaefer@wpnj.us.

Acceptance of treatment is not in lieu of arrest. Rather, the process creates an opportunity for individuals to break the cycle of addiction by connecting with treatment, recovery and support services.

In 2019, county law enforcement agencies administered 329 Narcan deployments. Narcan, which is also referred to as Naloxone, is a medicine administered by way of a spray into the nostrils of someone suffering from an opioid overdose, in an attempt to counteract that overdose. In addition, there were 103 fatal overdoses reported in Passaic County in 2019.


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