Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Policing is Social Work

The beatings and the killings are for your own good.

"Police say they want to aid, not arrest, addicts" by Felice J. Freyer Globe Staff  October 13, 2015

Around the state, officers find themselves thrust into an unfamiliar role, as police chiefs — fed up with arresting addicts over and over — look for new ways to hold back the tide of overdose deaths. More than 1,200 people succumbed to opioid-related overdoses last year, the most ever.

“There has been a growing movement for many years in policing to recognize drug addiction as a health problem rather than a criminal problem,” said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation, a national nonprofit that promotes innovation in policing. Helping people into treatment, he said, becomes a means of crime prevention.


What drugs is he on?

Although Governor Charlie Baker has proposed allowing hospitals to hold addicts against their will, the police programs move in the opposite direction — emphasizing that they are voluntary.

Still, as such programs catch on, critics question whether police are adequately trained to take on a public health role.

“Police are trained in one thing, and it’s not that,” said Ric Curtis, an anthropology professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. “I wouldn’t want them showing up at my door with such an offer. I’d feel compelled to say yes.”

Why? This is America, right?

But proponents assert that police play an essential role because they are plugged in to the community. The officers know the drug users and where they hang out and can make connections to people who might otherwise be unreachable.

Are they? Most people don't react favorably when they see authority. They become wary, and given the last year of problems between police and communities.... sigh. 

Please don't let me spoil the illusion and imagery of my police-supporting propaganda pre$$, readers.

That realization inspired a new program in Arlington. When drug dealers are arrested, the police usually know who all their customers are but until recently did nothing with that information. Now, the names of known drug users are shared with a state-funded social worker embedded in the Police Department, who reaches out to users.


DCF is a sh*thole when it comes to tracking drug abuse, but whatever.

“We can’t sit around and wait for them to overdose,” Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan said.

That is EXACTLY WHEN you want them to sit around and wait. When authority hollers urgency it's time to hit the brakes!

Since July 1, the social worker, Rebecca Wolfe, has contacted 52 Arlington residents, 18 of whom agreed to be trained in the use of the overdose-reversing drug Narcan . Five others were involuntarily committed to treatment, and eight agreed to enter detox.

Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello made headlines in May when he announced that any addict who came to the Police Department would be offered help instead of risking arrest. Since then, the Gloucester police have found treatment beds — some out of state — for 220 people, typically within hours of them arriving at the police station.

Campanello partnered with businessman and activist John E. Rosenthal (the founder of Stop Handgun Violence) to form a nonprofit, the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, which has enlisted 26 law enforcement agencies in nine states that have pledged to launch projects similar to Gloucester’s. 

Sounds great, huh? The state (and wealthy elite --"nonprofits provide new ways for corporations and individuals to influence," as if they didn't have enough already) that loves and cares about you, yup.

The initiative on the Cape, started by the Gosnold treatment center, involves police in Harwich, Dennis, and Yarmouth as well as Falmouth. By early October, the Gosnold team had visited 61 overdose survivors in the four towns, and 42 had entered treatment.

“When we first show up, they’re apprehensive,” said Kristoph Pydynkowski, Gosnold’s recovery coach coordinator, who accompanies the police officer. “They’re like, ‘All right, this is cool, but when are the handcuffs going to come out?’ ”

Which is strange because they are the most plugged in and able to reach, blah, blah, blah.

Then recovery coach Brendan Gettings and Pydynkowski explain their purpose. But often, it’s the man from law enforcement — the 43-year-old Simoneau — who puts people at ease.

Even if you are apprehensive regarding the police gear.

Pydynkowski recalled a grandmother at one household who welcomed the three men because she remembered Simoneau when he was a Boy Scout.

Brandon Buchanan also recognized Simoneau, a previous acquaintance of his father and uncle, when the three came to his door. He expected questions about where he got the drugs that led to his overdose a couple of days earlier.

Instead, they asked if he wanted any help. At age 19, Buchanan was already back to using heroin after his third overdose, feeling powerless over his addiction. “I was so hopeless that I really thought I was going to die with a needle in my arm,” he said.

But Gettings and Pydynkowski shared their own personal stories of recovery. “They just gave me the little bit of hope I needed,” Buchanan said. He agreed to enter treatment at Gosnold.

I'm sorry, but I no longer am holding out hope for this authority-promoting swill and slop spewing forth from the Bo$ton Globe.


Leo Beletsky, a professor of law and health sciences at Northeastern University, called the police involvement “a positive development” but cautioned that officers need the tools to fulfill this role effectively. Police academy training does not address the issue, and officers’ success at getting someone into treatment doesn’t win them a promotion, he noted. “Their job description does not include this kind of activity,” Beletsky said.

It’s too soon to tell whether the police interventions will prove effective. In Seattle, a four-year-old program that allows police officers to divert drug offenders to supportive services instead of arresting them has been found to reduce the likelihood of future arrest.

David L. Rosenbloom, professor of health policy and management at Boston University School of Public Health and a board member of the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative, said he hopes to obtain funding to track and study the Massachusetts programs.

How $elf-$erving!

Meanwhile, Rosenbloom sees no downside, saying the police efforts will make treatment more widely available.

But can the treatment system respond? In Arlington, even when the social worker persuades someone to seek care, the person often must wait days or even weeks to find a placement. In Gloucester, with persistent phone-calling, police have managed to find beds. But Chief Campanello admits he’s not sure why they’ve been so successful.

“Even doctors are calling us asking how we’re finding beds,” he said.

Look, I don't want any bad news this late in the therapy session.

Charles J. Faris, president of Spectrum Health Systems, a treatment center working with the Gloucester police, worries that such programs may become a victim of their own success — if they become so widespread that there aren’t enough beds.

Yeah, those services are getting cut and demand is allegedly greater than ever. Where is all the money coming from? Must be who you know, huh?

If word gets out on the street that help isn’t available after all, Faris said, the whole endeavor could become “a false promise.”

After this puff piece of positive promotion for law enforcement?


I suppose it is too late to tell it to Ms. Sinacori.

Just don't check into the hospital:

"Baker would give hospitals the power to hold addicts; Opioid epidemic brings call for ‘coerced treatment’" by David Scharfenberg Globe Staff  October 11, 2015

Governor Charlie Baker plans to file legislation this week giving hospitals the authority to hold addicts against their will for three days, evaluate them, and decide whether to seek legal permission for substantially longer commitments.

The proposal, modeled after existing rules for mental illness commitments, revives longstanding concerns about the ethics and efficacy of what is known among medical specialists as “coerced treatment.” But officials say it is an appropriate response to a deadly problem.

“We have a crisis on our hands,” said Marylou Sudders, Baker’s health and human services secretary. “You need all of the tools in the toolbox.”

It's the same damn screenplay each and every time! 

How did it become such a crisis, anyway, with the total surveillance and data-collection society anyway? 

Unless it is the GOVERNMENT ITSELF responsible for PLAYING BOTH SIDES yet again?!

The plan, which is still in draft form and subject to revision, comes amid mounting concern on Beacon Hill over an opioid scourge that left more than 1,200 dead from overdoses in Massachusetts last year. Lawmakers have approved new funding for treatment programs and are weighing a proposal to screen high school students for drug use.

So HOW MUCH is THAT VIOLATION OF PRIVACY yet all-so-important CONDITIONING for the KIDS going to cost, and where is the money coming from? Hollywood subsidies?

The Baker administration is expected to file its own legislative package in the coming days.


Families, police officers, and doctors can already go to court to seek 90-day “civil commitments” for alcoholics or addicts who pose a serious risk of suicide, homicide, or physical harm to themselves or others. This year, as of mid-September, about 3,250 people had been committed to treatment under the state’s current law.

But clinicians do not often make use of the time-consuming, court-based process. Baker’s plan would get them much more deeply involved, evaluating substance abusers during an initial, three-day hold and building the case, if appropriate, for long-term commitment.

The move would, in effect, open up a second avenue for coerced treatment. Administration officials emphasize that due process would be preserved under the new system. Patients would have the right to legally challenge both the three-day hold and any subsequent effort to commit them for a longer period of time. 

Coercion never works, and it breads resentment. That's social work 101.

But the proposal, like others put forward by the Baker administration in response to the opioid crisis, is designed to shift the center of gravity away from the criminal justice system and toward the health care system.

Barbara Herbert, president of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, calls the proposal “an extremely provocative idea that might actually bring some people into care.” Too often, she said, hospitals treat addicts for overdoses with antidotes like Narcan, only to watch them walk out the door and onto the street hours later.

“We’re saving more people [in Massachusetts] than anywhere else from death, from immediate overdose,” she said. “But we get these people, they come in — and then we lose them. The idea that we can hold them long enough to try to figure out what would be real care could be a really wonderful idea.”

But it could backfire, Herbert was quick to add. Overdose victims could grow afraid to seek treatment, she said, if they fear they will be held for three days and possibly shuttled into a longer-term commitment.

And if there are questions about the practical impacts of the policy, there are also ethical concerns about expanding a system that confines people against their will. Civil commitment, the Supreme Court declared in 1972, amounts to a “massive deprivation of liberty.”

Yeah, I picked up on that right from the start.

Christine Griffin, executive director of the Boston-based Disability Law Center, said the state too often takes that liberty without offering adequate substance abuse recovery services in exchange. “That’s the part where we fall down,” she said. “Everyone pays attention to the process — yes, that’s important — but then, what ultimately happens to these folks?”

I agree with that.

It is unclear what new treatment options Baker might offer in conjunction with the new policy. But broadly speaking, administration officials say they are acutely aware of the need to improve the system.

Strange after eight years of Deval the Great.

Baker proposed $27.8 million in new addiction-related funding in a budget bill now before the Legislature. And the administration is gearing up to move treatment beds for female addicts from a state prison in Framingham to what they say is a more appropriate venue: a psychiatric facility in Taunton.

But Jeffrey Eisen, a psychiatrist and medical director of community-based services for Lahey Health Behavioral Services in Danvers, said the research on the effectiveness of coerced care is mixed — leaving policymakers “in quite a bit of a gray area.”

He cited one review of 30 years of studies that found an “inconsistent and inconclusive pattern of results, calling into question the evidence-based claims made by numerous researchers that compulsory treatment is effective in the rehabilitation of substance users.”

It's all serving themselves to $$$$$$$$$!!!

Still, many in the substance abuse recovery movement say civil commitment — the 90-day process already on the books — is a vital bulwark for the most desperate families. Joanne Peterson, founder and executive director of parent support network Learn to Cope in Taunton, used the process twice to get her heroin-addicted son into treatment.

“No matter what we did, we weren’t able to reach him as a family, and we knew he was going to die,” she said. “You have to make the choice between buying a casket and a suit for him to wear in his casket, or standing in front of a judge and asking for help.”

Yup, you will have tyranny if for no other reason then the children. 

Now excuse the AmeriKan war machine and its allies pulverize them in so many places.

Peterson’s son has been sober for nearly seven years now.

Look, I'm not here arguing for addiction to drugs. I'm simply not liking the counselor i.e. the Bo$ton Globe.

(Btw, I've been sober from all drug and drink for over 22 years now. Why do you think I'm here?)

Government has wrestled with how to treat substance abuse for centuries, a challenge long wrapped up in the fraught debate about whether addiction is a malady, a failure of will — or, perhaps, both.

As they promote it! Tobacco $ub$idies all those years, booze is a big lobby and occupation for those in Congre$$, and money is the most addictive substance of all.

“Drunkenness is a disease as well as a sin,” Massachusetts governor John Andrew declared in an 1863 speech calling for an “inebriates” asylum. “We have long since legislated for its punishment; let us no longer neglect to legislate for its cure.”

I'm for prohibition. If it is good enough for pot.... 

Substance abuse commitment laws date back to the latter half of the 19th century. And the latest national tally, completed in 2012 and recently published in The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, found 32 states and Washington had statutes on the books.

That's where we are headed as a society, wealth inequality and influence being the key indicator.


Robert Fleischner, an attorney for the Northampton-based Center for Public Representation, which provides legal services for the disabled, adds that some judges use commitment as a sort of alternative to bail in drug cases.

So what do you want, jail or a dirty hospital room for a cell?

Clearing a new path to long-term commitment, as the Baker administration is proposing, could draw more people into a taxed system. But Dr. Sarah Wakeman, medical director for Massachusetts General Hospital’s Substance Use Disorder Initiative, said she’s not convinced.

“I wonder if we might see even fewer,” said Wakeman, who served on Baker’s Opioid Working Group, a panel of experts that proposed the shift in commitment policies, among dozens of other ideas.

If the administration follows through on its pledge to introduce more treatment options, she said, clinicians could use the three-day confinement to find outpatient care that the patients might willingly accept, rather than push them into forced long-term care.

Easing addicts into voluntary treatment, Wakeman said, is always preferable. “With any other medical care, we give patients options for different types of treatment,” she said. “And often with addiction, it can be sort of an ultimatum: that you do this, or else.”

It is like ANYTHING in LIFE. The PERSON has to WANT to CHANGE!


Good thing they are getting after the dealers:

"Facing epidemic, Baker seeks to limit opioid prescriptions" by Joshua Miller Globe Staff  October 15, 2015

Legislative leaders reacted positively to the proposal, but the Baker plan immediately drew concern from the medical community in Massachusetts, underscoring the tension between the government’s latest effort to stem the epidemic and doctors’ belief that they know their patients’ needs best.

“It doesn’t necessarily allow for the clinical judgment of physicians — to adjust their prescriptions for different patients with different situations,” said Dr. Dennis Dimitri, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, which represents more than 25,000 physicians and medical students.

Dr. David P. Lustbader, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who is vice president of the Massachusetts Dental Society, said the effort is a simplistic approach to a complex problem.

That is what government is best at.

“For me to tell a patient, ‘I’m sorry, you can only have 72 hours of pain medication,’ it’s not fair and it’s not realistic,” he said. “You’re having attorneys trying to fix health care, and you’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

The powerful American Medical Association also expressed worry. The group’s chairwoman-elect, Dr. Patrice A. Harris, said in a statement the AMA shares local doctors’ “concerns over sections of the bill, including universal mandates that may be well-intentioned, but may have unintentional consequences to the patient-physician relationship.”

But Dr. Sarah Wakeman, a Massachusetts General Hospital physician who served on Baker’s Opioid Working Group, which delivered a lengthy set of recommendations in June that helped form the basis of the bill, described a rationale for the prescribing limit push. She said drug addiction is a disease and, as in dealing with other diseases, prevention works.

“We prevent diabetes by limiting exposure to foods and beverages. We prevent lung cancer by limiting exposure to tobacco smoke,” she said at the news conference. So the proposed opioid prescription limit “will help to minimize excessive exposure to opioids.”

Baker, a former health insurance company executive, explained he has lots of friends and colleagues in the health care world. “I am astonished,” the Republican governor said, “by the casual nature and the casual attitude that I find when I talk to them about these medications and these issues. And that has got to change. Period.”

The governor’s legislation would also strengthen a prescription monitoring program, requiring every practitioner to check a database before writing an opioid prescription; increase education about the drugs for athletic coaches, parents, and physicians; and give hospitals new power to force treatment on substance abusers who pose a danger to themselves or others.

State must save from selves.

Early reviews of the bill from several powerful figures in the state were positive. Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, both Democrats, released warm statements about the legislation.

RelatedLegislative leaders voice hesitation on Baker’s opioid plan

The warmth didn't last long.

And in a clear nod to the bipartisan effort to tackle the crisis, Steven A. Tolman — the president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, a former Democratic state senator, and a sometimes Baker antagonist — stood directly to Baker’s right during the news conference. In remarks, Tolman, a longtime advocate on issues of substance abuse, underscored his support for the governor’s effort to address the scourge.

In another boost for the bill, Lora M. Pellegrini, president and chief executive of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, which represents 17 health insurers in the state, praised Baker for leading on the issue of opioid addiction.

Pellegrini said the data show a lot of heroin users start with opioid prescription drugs, and the prescription-limiting effort might help reduce the amount of those drugs on the street.

The governor also proposed ending the practice of sending women struggling with addiction — who are found by a court to pose an immediate risk of harm to themselves or others — to a Framingham prison when treatment beds are full.

Jessie Rossman, a staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which has brought a lawsuit on behalf of women civilly committed to the prison, said she is reviewing the legislation and hopes any bill that becomes law will actually accomplish the goal of ending the practice.

She also said the ACLU is carefully reviewing Baker’s push to give hospitals new power to force treatment on substance abusers who pose a danger to themselves or others for up to 72 hours — and offered a note of concern about any effort that can deprive people of their liberties.

Baker’s proposal mirrors existing law that permits a 72-hour period of involuntary treatment when a physician determines a person suffers from mental illness and poses a serious risk of harm.

Massachusetts has suffered from a grim rise in unintentional opioid overdose deaths. The state Department of Public Health said this year that an estimated 1,256 Massachusetts residents died from opioid overdoses in 2014, a sharp increase from 2013 and 2012.

The Senate has already passed its own bill this fall, focused on steering people away from addiction through education and prevention. Baker’s bill, along with efforts by the House, may be melded into a single legislative package in the months ahead.

The governor has made a wide-ranging state government response to the crisis a centerpiece of his agenda. Aides said he is deeply committed to getting a comprehensive bill to address opioid abuse into law and is willing to use his political capital to get it done.

He will spending it all down because this problem never seems to go away.


"Baker wants to place new limits on how many opioid painkillers doctors and dentists can prescribe to a patient, looking to help stanch addiction where it often begins."

RelatedWorking groups tackle heroin problem

Notice how the state and government is all REACTIVE when it comes to the hardcore heroin addicts but is still waging a war on weed?

"80-year-old marijuana dealer pleads guilty in federal court" by Milton J. Valencia Globe Staff  October 16, 2015

He owned houses in Massachusetts, Colorado, and Arizona, had $11 million stashed in a North Reading storage facility, and once crawled away from a plane crash in Wisconsin as thousands of dollars in cash (suspected drug profits) floated through the air around him.

But his dramatic exploits came to an end Thursday, when 80-year-old Marshall Herbert Dion, wearing tan prison clothing, shuffled to the witness stand to plead guilty to running a massive marijuana-dealing and money-laundering operation.

Related: Dion the Drug Dealer 

Under a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Dion could serve 5 to 7 years in federal prison, ending a lucrative criminal career that spanned decades until a chance traffic stop in Kansas.

“Over the course of the conspiracy . . . he had sold approximately 3,000 to 10,000 kilograms of marijuana,” Assistant US Attorney Leah Foley said during a brief court hearing.

Dion’s lawyer, Hank Brennan, said later that “Mr. Dion has embraced his responsibility and is looking forward to the next chapter in his life.”

Dion’s unraveling began during a traffic stop in Junction City, Kan., in June 2013, when a police officer pulled him over for driving 80 in a 75 m.p.h. zone. During the stop, the officer searched Dion’s beat-up pickup truck and found nearly $850,000 in cash.

The discovery sparked a federal investigation that ultimately led to the discovery of $2 million in a bank account, another $880,000 in an Arizona building, and the storage facility in North Reading, where authorities found 395 pounds of marijuana and $11 million in cash.

Foley told US District Judge Denise Casper that authorities found travel logs that indicate Dion had sold more than 3,000 kilograms of marijuana — and possibly as many as 10,000 kilograms — dating back to 1992.

That was Bulger's judge. 

RelatedBulger’s girlfriend says little in court, except ‘not guilty’

Dion’s decision to plead guilty Thursday caps a lengthy criminal career. He was convicted in Massachusetts in the late 1980s of drug trafficking after authorities in Boston found about 180 pounds of marijuana in a 1986 Chrysler sedan. Police later found 101 pounds of marijuana stashed in a commercial storage building in Lynnfield.

A Boston police spokesman told the Globe at the time that “apparently he has houses all over New England. He’s a major operator, there’s no question.”

After the plane crash in Wisconsin in 1985, Dion was found crawling through a muddy field, though he denied that the $112,000 in cash found inside the plane and floating through the air was his.

For Dion’s latest exploits, Casper could sentence him to prison for a term ranging from 60 to 87 months for conspiracy to deal marijuana, possession with intent to deal marijuana, and money laundering, under the deal he reached with prosecutors. He had faced a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison if he had been convicted in a trial. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 11.

Under the plea agreement, however, Dion’s conviction and guilty plea would be vacated if he is successful in an appeal he is pursuing before a higher court. That appeal is based on what he calls an unconstitutional search of his truck after the traffic stop in Kansas.

Dion told Casper that he agreed with everything Foley said about him in court Thursday except two things: That the Kansas officer had a reason to stop him for speeding, and that he consented to the search of the truck.

“There’s no way the officer could have known if I was speeding, even if I was, which I wasn’t,” Dion said.

Then he added, “There’s no way I would have agreed to a search of my property.”


Better bring the dogs over then:

"State Police dog Zeva sniffs out 100 pounds of marijuana at Logan" by John R. Ellement Globe Staff  October 08, 2015

A San Jose, Calif., man arrived at Boston’s Logan Airport Wednesday night with two carefully packed suitcases. With the help of a Belgian Malinois dog, State Police say, investigators learned why he was so precise — inside were 100 pounds of suspected marijuana in shrink-wrapped plastic.

Trang Pham, 31, was arrested at the airport on charges of trafficking in marijuana and was to be arraigned Thursday in East Boston Municipal Court, State Police said.

According to the authorities, the Drug Enforcement Administration, State Police, and Randolph police followed a lead and concluded that a passenger arriving on Delta Airlines from San Francisco was bringing a large amount of marijuana with him to Boston.

The flight arrived around 5 p.m. Wednesday and Pham was singled out for questioning about the contents of his suitcases, State Police said.

At that point, Trooper Eric Pecjo brought his Belgian Malinois, Zeva, to examine the luggage, State Police said. The way the dog reacted to the suitcases helped law enforcement obtain a search warrant from a judge in the East Boston courthouse.

When the bags were opened, the drugs were discovered.


I'd say you are better off growing your own, but....

"Police offer ‘counseling’ to owner of marijuana found in N.H. woods" by Steve Annear Globe Staff  October 14, 2015

If your stash of marijuana plants growing in the woods of New Hampshire has gone missing, police in the town of Danbury are offering a shoulder to cry on.

In a post on the department’s Facebook page this week, officers shared a picture of the plants, which they had plucked from the ground, splayed out on top of a police cruiser. Accompanying the image was a message to the owner of the plants.

“If you get home tonight and go for a walk in the woods ... And your summers [sic] horticulture project has gone and you’d like to talk to somebody about it, please feel free to give us a call,” police said on Facebook.

Police said they left a business card with the department’s contact information on it in place of the cannabis plants.

“We will offer you some counseling to get through your loss,” police said.

The message, which was posted by Police Chief David Suckling, was shared more than 1,400 times as of Wednesday afternoon. Suckling said he was surprised by the widespread attention that it received.

“I’m blown away with the volume of response,” Suckling said in a telephone interview.

As more people discovered the snide remarks and the photo of the plants, members of the department continued to interact with them.

Odd. My printed paper says as more people "came across the tongue-in-cheek" remarks. 

So other people caught the condescending insults as well, huh?

When one person accused police of wasting time by going after marijuana growers, rather than people selling more serious drugs, police said the opportunity to remove the plants, which they described as “female” and capable of budding, had fallen into their laps.

A second person advised police that someone was making “meth” down the road, to which the department replied: “We’d like to offer those folks some counseling as well. Do you happen to have a name or address you could share with us?”

Police also said their discovery was a lifesaving effort — for junk food items spared from people with the munchies.

“There are several bags of Doritos and some salsa dip that are very thankful,” police wrote.

Ha-ha-ha, nice stereotyping, you bigoted pig.

Suckling said that the investigation into the plants’ origin remains open but is not a top priority.

After all the web work you guys pout into it?

He said the department is serious about policing, but likes to keep things light-hearted sometimes on social media.

“It wasn’t to give anyone a hard time. It was to show everybody we are active in the community,” he said. “People who work with us on a regular basis will tell you that we are down-to-earth human beings.”

Yeah, never mind the power asshole sarcasm coming trough.


Also seeStudy finds state liquor laws saving more women than men

Saving them from what

Maybe they should be sent to some sort of boot camp.