There were 11 opioid-related overdose deaths in New Cumberland in 2017.
Mayor Doug Morrow held a town hall in early 2018 to address the problem. Morrow asked more than 250 people in attendance to get involved with helping those who are struggling with addiction and help make the community safer.
A few weeks later, the mayor’s plan was launched. Morrow gave out his cell number and asked residents to call him if they suspected drug activity in their neighborhoods. Several sting operations and arrests followed.
Morrow determined that arrests alone would not solve the problem, so he enlisted the help of Angela Cook, who fought her own addiction and has been clean for nearly 11 years.
“The mayor said that we needed an all-hands-on-deck approach, and everyday people in the community got involved,” Cook said.
Cook says local church and community leaders and residents were trained in how to use naloxone for reversing overdoses.
Cook says the police department will arrest those who are committing crimes, but they are trained to offer assistance to those fighting addiction.
She says they also have programs that connect residents with men and women in recovery.
“We have people who once looked down on those struggling with addiction working side by side with them,” said Cook. “It helps those in recovery build a bond and trust with the community and it helps residents connect with those who want to get their lives back on track.”
Cook says the mayor’s plan” provides long-term interaction opportunities with those who have gone through recovery but want to stay connected with the grassroots effort.