COMMUNITY CRISIS: Hope – Not Handcuffs Part 1

MACOMB CO., Mich (WLNS) – For many addicts, jail cells are an all too familiar scene.

The last place you would think to see an addict getting help, is the first place they go in Macomb County Michigan: a police station.

For many, the missing key to getting help, is the place where they’ve been locked up before.

William Herms is a recovering addict. “Heroin, crack, alcohol, benzos, anything. I started very young but nowadays you have no clue what you’re getting and it gets to the point when things stop working and you’re looking for the new thing that works.”

Herms began using drugs more than 20 years ago and found himself in and out of jail until a certain program offered in Macomb County broke that cycle, to give him the hope he needed.

Today he sits next to his sponsor, Keith Alan Meservy, also a recovering addict.

They’re talking about the program “Hope Not Handcuffs” and the hope it brings to them both.

“The success for me, to give it back to help somebody else. keeps me going in the way I am in sobriety. The day that I met Will is not the same person sitting next to me right now. He definitely was at his bottom,” Meservy said.

The program is still very young, only beginning in February of this year.

The way it works is simple, you walk into a police station as an addict, and you will not be arrested.

Judge Linda Davis introduced the program to Macomb County. “Turn yourself into the police department, we don’t care how many times you relapse we are going to be here to pick you up, get you into treatment and make sure you’re not on a death certificate somewhere,” Davis said.

Once an addict comes through the door with the cries for help, a sponsor, or angel as they are known, will be called to the police station. The addict starts the path to “hope” within minutes.

For William it was the final straw. “I had called treatment, I had called detox. Two week waiting list, three week waiting list. A guy like me could either die in those two weeks or I could come up with another plan,” Herms said.

Judge Davis says, society expects the behavior to change once the addict is arrested. In reality, society needs to change when dealing with addicts.

“We really have to revamp the whole system and what we’re doing with it to make sure we are giving our future generation a shot,” Davis said.

When asked, Herms said the program is a success. “Absolutely, for me. I can’t speak for everyone else. But for me it absolutely has.”

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