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The mission of the Blue CARES program is to bring law enforcement and treatment professionals together in facing the opioid epidemic and addressing addiction, treatment, recovery, and public safety from a broader perspective.

Image: Penn State

Penn State Berks police officers join Blue CARES

WYOMISSING, Pa. — Three Penn State Berks University Police officers — Deputy Chief Kevin Rudy, Officer Philip Bentz, and Officer Corey Yochimowitz — have joined Blue CARES (Cops Assisting Recovery Engagement and Support), a collaborative community policing program between Berks County law enforcement officers and the Council on Chemical Abuse. 

The mission of the Blue CARES program is to bring law enforcement and treatment professionals together in facing the opioid epidemic and addressing addiction, treatment, recovery, and public safety from a broader perspective.

As part of the program, overdosing drug users who are saved by police with naloxone in Berks County will get a follow-up visit in their home with the goal of convincing overdose survivors to enter treatment.

After a member of law enforcement successfully administers naloxone to reverse the effect of an opioid-related overdose, an officer — preferably the same one who administered the naloxone — and a Certified Recovery Specialist will make a joint home visit to the survivor within 48-72 hours. The purpose is the engage with the survivor and his or her family members, to provide access to important resources (including family intervention and/or a family support group), and to engage the overdose survivor into treatment.

“Drug addiction is just like any other complicated disease. If we are ill, or have a sick loved one, we seek medical treatment. If someone becomes addicted to a controlled substance, we may not understand that that person is suffering from a disease that is controlling his or her life," explained Penn State Deputy Chief Kevin Rudy. “Blue CARES brings law enforcement and the Council of Chemical Abuse together to engage the overdose survivor into a treatment program.”

According to Lt. Nelson Ortiz of the Berks County Drug Task Force, as of November 2018, 13 police departments in Berks County saved 32 people from drug overdoses using naloxone.