This information was provided by Sue Gagne, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Genesee and Orleans Counties:
National Crime Victims' Rights Week is April 10-16. Communities nationwide, aided by the Office for Victims of Crime, will hold observances. This year's theme is "Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope" and the aim is to underscore the importance of early intervention and using victim services in establishing trust with victims in order to begin to restore their hope for healing and recovery.
In Genesee County, starting at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, April 15, there will be a Ceremoninal Walk and Reception at the Old County Courthouse (Downtown Batavia at the corner of routes 5 and 63). For more information, call Theresa at 344-2550, ext. 3920.
Prior to that date is Criminal Justice Day, Tuesday, April 12, and there will be a half-day event at Genesee Community College titled "The Opiate Epidemic: The Unintended Victims." It runs from 8:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Conable Technology Center, 1 College Road, Batavia.
Cost to attend is $10 per person; $5 for students. Seating is limited; first come, first served. Registration forms are due by April 4. Checks should be made payable to the Mental Health Association of Genesee and Orleans Counties. For more information, call 344-2611.
According to the event brochure, heroin use has increased across the United States among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels. Some of the greatest increases occured in deomgraphic groups with historically low rates of heroin use -- women, the privately insured, and people with higher incomes.
Nor only are people using heroin more than ever, they are also abusing multiple other substances, especially cocaine and prescription opioid painkillers.
Law enforcement officials say history teaches that American society can't arrest its way out of the drug problems it faces. While effective enforcement is esstantial to protecting cities and neighborhoods, reducing drug use requires a broader, multidimensional approach.
Scientists say that it is clear that addiction is a progressive disease of the brain that can be prevented and treated and recovery is possible.
In addition to the college, the event on opioid addiction and its unintended victims is presented by these 2016 Criminal Justice Day partners:
- Batavia Police Department
- Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse (GCASA)
- GC District Attorney's Office
- GC Sheriff's Office
- GC Youth Bureau
- Genesee Justice
- Mental Health Association of Genesee and Orleans Counties
- RESTORE Sexual Assault Services
- YWCA of Genesee County
Keynote speakers are Mike Covert, police chief of Cooperstown, and Alexis Pleus, a structural engineer and mother of three sons who lost her oldest son to a heroin overdose in 2014.
Under Covert's leadership, the police department made a "revolutionary change" in the way it responds to the opiate crisis. He implemented an initiative last Thanskgiving called PAARI -- Police Assisting Addicts Toward Recovery Initiative. It allows addicts to walk into the Cooperstown Police Station with drug paraphernalia or drugs to ask for help and not be charged with a crime. Instead, they are walked through the system toward detox and recovery with the assistance of an assigned "ANGEL" who guides them through the process -- not in hours or days but on the spot. Since its implementation, 45 people have enrolled in the program.
Pleus has used her experience with addiction and the stigma she faced to start an organization called Truth Pharm, which works to raise awareness, reduce the stigma, implement programs, and advocate for policies that have a profound impact on the opioid epidemic.
The day's agenda is as follows:
8:15 to 8:45 -- Registration
8:45 to 9 -- Flag Raising
9 to 9:15 -- Welcome and Introductions
9:15 to 10:15 -- Keynote Speakers
10:15 to 10:30 -- Break
10:30 to 11:45 -- Panel Discussion: Impact on the Community
11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. -- Pharmacology of Opiates