November 19, 2015
We held the first meeting at the Newton Police Department with a group of concerned community stakeholders to address recovery support for those addicted to opiates and in need of services and treatment in our county. Each person in attendance was invited due to their expertise, their role in the community and their concern in regards to the growing opioid addiction epidemic being seen throughout New Jersey and in our “own backyard.” Our first meeting had 17 people at the table, including our County Prosecutor, our Chief of Police, local hospital and county administrators, local government officials, treatment agencies, people in recovery and other key stakeholders. We believe that everyone who in attendance will help make significant contributions to this innovative program’s success. We determined to refer to this initiative as C.L.E.A.R, which stands for Community Law Enforcement Addiction Recovery. The name was an idea suggested by Newton Police Chief Mike Richards, which the group unanimously agreed to be a good fit for the work we are trying to accomplish. Since that first meeting, much progress has occurred and we are now working to offer people a place to seek assistance for treatment of their addiction along with providing recovery supports for those desiring to address their substance use disorder.
March 11, 2016
We held a press conference in front of the Newton municipal building to officially announce the program to the public. Chief Michael Richards read the mission statement and described how a new collaborative approach will be more effective in solving a complicated problem. Prosecutor Francis Koch spoke about the number of overdoses in Sussex County and how this program will give people a new start in seeking recovery. Clinical Director for the Center for Prevention and Counseling, Rachel Wallace, gave an overview of the national proportions of the opioid epidemic and Executive Director Becky Carlson explained that a community problem needs a community solution. Joseph DiPaolo, president of Newton Medical Center, said that the hospital, which contributed $7500, was very excited to be a part of the program as well. The press conferenced concluded with a request for help from volunteers.
May 21, 2016
Our team of volunteers started the CCAR Recovery Coach Academy. A number of applicants had been interviewed and selected to serve as peer and family recovery coaches within the program. The 30 hour training and certification process was the start to preparing our coaches for assisting future participants. We bonded as a group, learned our roles and how to effectively use our lived experience in helping others.
July 18, 2016
The doors of the Newton Police Department opened at 8 a.m. to offer assistance to anyone seeking help. In the eight months since the inception of C.L.E.A.R. our steering committee was hard at work preparing to start the program. A team of volunteer recovery coaches was established and certified to provided support to both those living with addiction and their family members. Newton PD and the Prosecutor’s Office created the policy and procedures, and the Officers were trained to handle walk-ins. The first participant came in a few days later.