Scottsdale helping drug addicts with Arizona Angel Initiative, not handcuffs

Scottsdale helping addicts without handcuffs
Posted at 4:48 AM, May 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-17 13:38:31-04

It is a program that offers help without the handcuffs. This week, the Arizona Angel Initiative has expanded and is now available to people struggling with drug addiction in Scottsdale.

The program allows anyone to walk up to an officer in their community or into a police substation and ask for help through the 'Angel' program. They can also bring their illegal drugs to be taken by an officer without fear of being arrested and charged with a crime.  

The police officer will then alert an 'Angel' to help continue an addict with their recovery. An 'Angel' is a volunteer who is a former addict themselves who can offer support and point them toward recovery programs.

"Law enforcement deals with it in one way through targeting drug trafficking organizations and arresting people and taking it off the streets," explained Commander Rich Slavin. "But, that doesn't complete the whole picture. We have to look at many ways to combat issues like this."

Volunteer Adal Angel Gonzalez said, "I'm there, not because I'm making any money, not because I'm getting any kudos or awards or anything, but I'm there because I want to help them." 

The program began last year only in the Maryvale-Estrella precinct in Phoenix. 

Now, volunteers are hoping the program expands beyond Scottsdale and goes throughout the state. 

The program does have specific criteria to be aware of that is listed on the Scottsdale Police Department's website. Individuals who choose to become part of the Angel Initiative must meet the following criteria:

  • Be an adult---over the age of 18 and have a valid city, state or federal picture identification
  • Live in the city of Scottsdale 
  • Not be a fugitive of justice or have any prior or pending charges for crimes involving violence, arson, sex, children or the elderly
  • Not have a criminal conviction for possession with intent to transport or sell, no drug violations in a school zone or more than three drug-related arrests
  • Be willing and able to follow staff directions and physically and mentally be able to self-manage personal hygiene and self -care within a non-medical, non-psychiatric facility.
  • Those with physical or mental disorders must be considered “stable” and take medications as prescribed by their physician
  • If detox is required, persons must be willing to go to detox and obtain medical clearance.

The Governor's office said 137 individuals have used the program in the Maryvale-Estrealla district since last year. 

They are also working right now on a feasibility report of expanding the program into other counties.

That is set to be completed in December of this year.