People battling addiction can get treatment plan in minutes through new Bensalem police program

Bensalem police launch addiction treatment pilot program
Photo credit Jim Melwert/KYW Newsradio
BENSALEM, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — It can take hours or even days for someone to go through an assessment and bed search to enter an addiction treatment program. Bensalem Township Police Director Fred Harran says that's just too long.

"When someone has that moment when they're ready to quit — when they're ready to get clean, when they're ready to get cured, when the disease has let its guard down a little bit when they can get the help — you have about a five-minute window before they're going to decide to go get that next hit," said Harran. "You don't have days or hours. You have minutes."

To better support people dealing with addiction and get them the help they need, Bensalem Township has launched a new pilot program that expedites the assessment process.

Through the Bensalem Police Assisting in Recovery program (BPAIR), someone can walk into the Bensalem Police Department, fill out a couple forms, and start an assessment with Gaudenzia, a treatment facility, via video conference to determine what kind of treatment is needed. If necessary, they can start the search for an in-patient bed.

If a treatment facility is found, the Kaitlin Murphy Foundation will pay for the patient's Uber ride there.

For now, the program is only for Bensalem residents between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., but Harran hopes to make it available 24/7.

He also hopes the pilot program catches on around the region and around the country.

Harran said the program is for people who come in voluntarily, but — depending on the charges — it could be offered to someone who is arrested. 

"If you have drugs on you, you will not be arrested," he noted. "We will take the drugs from you and the paraphernalia, but you will not be arrested for those drugs."

He stresses, though, that it is not a "get out of jail free" card, and any charges would still have to be dealt with.