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Ralph Evangelous signing off on LEAD
Chief Ralph Evangelous signing the memorandum for the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program on May 17, 2017. (Photo: Basil John/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — United we stand, divided we fall.

A common expression several groups are taking to heart to win the fight against opioids.

Wilmington police, the District Attorney’s office and agencies that work with overcoming addictions, signed a joint memorandum to implement a new program.

The LEAD, or Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program, will help addicts, rather than punish them.

“It allows us to try to get the treatment option out there quickly, rather than incarcerate for minor, low level crimes,” Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said.

The program’s goal is to get the users into a drug addiction treatment center, but keep helping them if they relapse

Robert Child, North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition Executive Director, believes that this can only work if everyone works together.

“If we as a community work in silos, we will all fail. If we, as a community, stand united, and create a plan that we can all work on together, in order to create a safer, healthier community, I think Wilmington wins without a doubt,” Child says.

There are already about 10 law enforcement assisted diversion programs throughout the country, like in Seattle and Fayetteville, but Wilmington will be the second program in the south on June first. This is another big step towards ending the opioid epidemic and enforcing public safety.

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