Protecting and Serving the Health of our Communities
There are lots of challenges in this world that are best met when people from all sorts of different backgrounds come together. The challenge of making our communities healthier is one of those, and I’ve been thinking lately about how lucky we are to have law enforcement partners that are helping in this effort.
This morning as I was dropping my son off at daycare, we passed by four officers from the Norway Police Department who were on their way to help with the local Walking School Bus. The officers walk with a group of kids from the downtown neighborhood over to the Rowe School. The kids get to see the officers for the helpers that they are, get some exercise, and learn how to be safe walkers (which seems especially important in an age of distracted driving). The Norway police also ran a program this summer where they gave “Positive Tickets” to kids who were spotted wearing helmets and roller skating or riding their bikes, scooters, or skateboards safely. The “tickets” were certificates for a small ice cream at The Inside Scoop in South Paris.
During the Western Maine Recovery Rally back in September, cruisers volunteered from the Paris and Norway Police Departments safely escorted a crowd of 100 people as they marched from downtown Norway to Moore Park in South Paris, in support of people in recovery from substance use disorder.
The Oxford County Sheriff’s office has made a commitment to saving the lives of people who overdose by training and equipping all officers in the use of Narcan, a life-saving drug that counteracts the effects of heroin and opiates. The Sheriff’s Office has also offered to transport people to medical appointments for treatment for substance use disorder. When there are no other transportation options, and the department has an available officer, they are willing to help with this important service.
All departments in Oxford County are participants in Project Save ME, a free program that allows people in active use to ask for help from the community. These people can go to a police department or an emergency room, will be paired with a Recovery Coach, and will be given help to find treatment. Participants can surrender drugs and/or paraphernalia for safe disposal at that time.
These are just a few examples of how police officers are protecting and serving our communities by helping to make them healthier. We’re lucky to have them as partners in meeting that challenge.
Brendan Schauffler is the Network Facilitator for the Oxford County Wellness Collaborative, an inclusive network of people and organizations committed to transforming our personal, environmental and economic health through collective action. Want to get involved? You can reach him at 739-6222 or Brendan@healthyoxfordhills.org.
He works for Healthy Oxford Hills, the local Healthy Community Coalition and a project of Stephens Memorial Hospital.
Reprinted with the permission of the Advertiser Democrat