FRANKFORT – Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin and Kentucky Justice & Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley were alongside Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rick Sanders as the Angel Initiative was launched statewide on March 1, 2018.

The Angel Initiative is a pro-active approach offering an alternative escape to those battling substance use disorders. Under this initiative, anyone battling addiction can come to any KSP Post and receive help finding a treatment center “without fearing retribution,” Tilley said.

“We have an obligation to our fellow citizens to make sure people don’t slip through the cracks,” said Bevin. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Operation UNITE assisted the Pikeville KSP Post launch the Angel Initiative in March 2017. Read story about Pikeville launch.

The program was also piloted last year by the Richmond Post.

So far, 10 individuals have entered treatment because of the Angel Initiative, Sanders said.

“Our mission is to help people,” stated Commander Jennifer Sandlin, formerly with the Pikeville Post but now at the Hazard Post. “If you help one person it will have a multiplying effect (on the community).”

Officials emphasized that this doesn’t replace enforcement. Rather, it helps people and saves lives.

“The Angel Initiative opens the front door” to people before they enter the judicial system because of criminal activity, Sanders said.

The program, which Sanders brought to Kentucky from Gloucester, Mass., while Chief of the Jeffersontown Police Department, is an opportunity to safe lives.

“We’re not getting soft on crime, we’re just getting smart on crime,” Sanders said. “It is the right thing to do. Come to us and let us get you the help you need.”

Sanders noted that Gloucester saw a one-third drop in property crimes after they implemented the Angel Initiative.

“Very few people set out to abuse drugs,” Bevin said, noting 1,404 overdose deaths were reported in Kentucky last year. “The overwhelming amount of (drug) addiction is winning out. If we allow that many people to die … shame on us.”

The Angel Initiative will be operated in conjunction with Bevin’s “Don’t Let Them Die” campaign, intended to raise awareness of the opioid drug problem.

As part of that campaign, UNITE operates a KY HELP Call Center helpline where people can find information about drug treatment. The number to call is 833-8KY-HELP (833-859-4357).

Sanders, a member of the UNITE Board of Directors, was joined by UNITE President/CEO Nancy Hale, UNITE Deputy Director Tom Vicini, UNITE Board Chairman Tom Handy, UNITE Board member and Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele and other UNITE staff members at KSP Headquarters in Frankfort for the announcement. Also participating in the event was KSP Richmond Post Commander Curt Hall.

To learn more about the KSP Angel Initiative click here.