COMMUNITY CRISIS: Hope – Not Handcuffs Part 2

MACOMB CO., Mich (WLNS) – With a light spring rain falling in the Miller’s backyard a small oak tree is the center piece of a freshly made memorial garden honoring their son, a popular south-east Michigan musician.

With a long life ahead of him.

Brian Miller’s addiction to heroin is what ultimately led to the music ending.

“To never hear him play his guitar again, or write a song that hurts, Jean Miller said.

Brian’s struggle began about 10 years-ago in college when he tried heroin.

A young man with a promising future quickly became addicted.

Now the question is, how to kick it, and get his life back.

A phone call he made to his Mom Jean that she was not expecting.

“If you’re driving, pull over I gotta tell you something. He told me he had a problem with heroin. I said to him, are you telling me you’re a heroin addict? He said no, I have a problem but I’m going to be fine Mom,” Miller said.

After about nine years, in and out of counseling and detoxing, January of this year seemed promising for Brian.

He was clean and even went to Florida in March to enjoy family time with his Mom, Dad and two brothers who were his best friends.

Jean and Dave extended their trip a few days after the boys had left.

It was the drive home as they were stuck in a traffic jam in Atlanta when they got the call that Brian had succumbed to heroin.

“I look back on it and I drove the whole way but I don’t remember a lot of that trip,” Dave Miller said.

The Millers had lost all hope that day in March, but for others in neighboring Macomb County, the program “Hope Not Handcuffs” is restoring hope to addicts.

Macomb County Judge Linda Davis introduced the program to the county.

“We keep arresting addicts, throwing them in jail. The average addict will relapse within 72 hours to 30 days after release,” Davis said.

The program allows addicts to walk into any police station in Macomb County and get the help they need which will break the cycle of throwing them in jail.

Some police departments in the county laughed at this idea – at first.

“Personally, me initially, I’m not going to lie to you, I was not on board with it. A couple reasons: Cops don’t like change and when this first came out I thought right away that this was a free pass for somebody that’s done something wrong, and should go to jail and get charged, and now we’re giving them an out,” Eastpointe Sergeant Randy Diegel said.

“The police departments that were like, ahhhh I’ll do it but I’m only doing it because you asked me to do it. They now are singing accolades about how this is so different and this so much more fun than going to a family’s house saying guess what your kid is dead,” Davis said.

“It is the mission of Judge Davis to reach out to every police department in Michigan asking them to offer the ”Hope Not Handcuffs” program.

“We were so hopeful for Brian. Even though we always worried and knew it would be a life-long struggle. We had a lot of hope for our son. He had a lot of wonderful things happening in his life and I know he didn’t want to die,” Jean Miller said.