Police officer awarded for work with drug addicts

Officer Brian Wynn helps drug addicts get help disconnecting from heroin and other opioids


By Mike Rutledge
Dayton Daily News

HAMILTON, Ohio — When Hamilton Police Officer Brian Wynn first started accompanying Jennifer Mason of Fort Hamilton Hospital to meet with drug addicts, trying to connect them with rehabilitation, the pair often heard deadlocks clack shut. Sometimes, people ran out their back doors, fearing arrest.

These days, Wynn is just as likely to receive a hug from those he visits.

Wynn recently won a pair of awards for his work helping drug addicts get help disconnecting from heroin and other opioids. The Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments presented him its award for outstanding public service, and the city of Hamilton commended for his innovation with the program.

The 18-year Hamilton Police Department veteran credits two others in particular for the program.

Mason, a retired Hamilton paramedic and now the emergency medical services coordinator at Fort Hamilton Hospital, started the program several years ago.

“Jennifer’s very good. She’s very passionate about what she does,” Wynn said. “She got everybody together — recovery organizations, people in government, put them together in one room, had them come together and come up with ideas about how to tackle this.”

And Detective Robert Horton wrote a grant application that won a $100,000 grant that allowed Wynn to do the work nearly full time fighting the drug scourge that remains at epidemic levels.

“Originally, when the program started, I was involved because I was considered security for the team,” Wynn said. “Some of the places they were going to were drug houses and places like that, so they were concerned.”

As time went on, with his experience in the community, he eventually became the program’s leader — after he started wearing plain clothes so addicts would stop fleeing.

“Since the program’s been going, now more people on the street are hearing about it,” Wynn said. “They’re asking for me personally, or officers on the street will give my information out, so they can make contact with me.”

“A lot of people, they’re shocked that we’re there to help them, versus arrest them and incarcerate them,” he said. “So it’s making a better relationship between the police department and people who are out there.”

Some people cry when offered the help.

“A few of my colleagues say I go out and give out hugs,” he said. Sometimes families and others he would never expect it from bring it in for an embrace, they’re so grateful.

In the past seven months, has contacted about 200 people, no small feat considering that many don’t have permanent addresses or phones. Hamilton people can reach him at 513-868-5811, extension 1172.

Wynn follows up on overdose reports, just as a detective would. Then he visits the addicts.

“It may be the next week, it may be just the day after. And we provide them with the resources they can make contact with, if they’re willing to get treatment. Sometimes people are willing; sometimes they aren’t. It depends on where they’re at in their life,” he said.

“We make contact with those resources, and a lot of times we can get people connected that day or that week,” he said, “whereas sometimes there’s a longer waiting period for people to get into those resources. So we provide them the contacts, give them the resources, and then at that point, it’s up to them.”

Some who have relapsed and reconnected with Wynn for more help have told him it was because he took time to speak with them that put them on the road toward drug-free lives.

Some addicts he links to rehab face no charges, while others have criminal court dates, he said.

“I’ll help them with that, because the whole idea of it is to stop the cycle of that. We’re not after trying to get, over and over, somebody who’s addicted, jailed. We’re trying to get them to where they’re a productive citizen among society,” he said.

“Now, the whole police department’s on board with it,” Wynn said, noting many have pitched in to help those in need.

It’s difficult to know how many the program has contacted have successfully quit drugs, partly because of federal health-care privacy laws, among other factors.Many times, addicts aren’t ready to be helped, said Caleb Blevins, a licensed counselor with Modern Psychiatry & Wellness, who has worked with Wynn and Mason.

“If you look at numbers, you kind of lose sight of what the main objective is,” Blevins said. “And the objective is to help someone.”

When you look at the number of people helped compared to the number approached and offered help, “it can be discouraging,” Blevins said.

“But if you look at it from the aspect of out of the 10 people let’s say we talked to today, one of them goes to treatment, then that’s a success because that one person can go on to change their life, and maybe they can become interested in the (rehabilitation) field, and then they can help some people.”

“I can think of several” who now are drug free, Blevins said.

One woman is 17 months clean and now is in the process of buying a house.

“I’ve seen a lot of people changed,” Blevins said. “And some people, they don’t want the help.”

“For people who are discouraged or hurting or think they need help, please reach out, because it’s available,” Blevins said. “A lot of people think, when they’re in that predicament, or mindset, that they’re hopeless. And they’re not hopeless. They’re absolutely not hopeless. They just have some problems that they need do deal with. Don’t give up hope.”

Copyright 2018 Dayton Daily News

 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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