Beating drug addiction is getting more difficult each day. This is without mentioning the increasing numbers of people getting addicted to drugs. This had led the Springfield Police Department and the Gateway Foundation launched a program Thursday meant to offer immediate help to people with drug and alcohol addiction.

The Safe Passage Initiative will allow any person to enter the city’s police headquarters or approach an on-duty Springfield police officer and ask for help. A screening process determines if a person is a good candidate for the program. If admitted, those who are in possession of drugs would not be charged.

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Springfield Police Chief Kenny Winslow said the department ran a pilot program in early September—with one participant recently completing a 28-day treatment program and another still in it.

“This is not a get-soft-on-crime initiative. This is not for people who are under arrest for another charge. It’s a realization that addiction affects people of all backgrounds and all socioeconomics.”

Winslow said the initiative is also not for registered sex offenders or for someone who already has three or more drug-related convictions, among other criteria. He said the plan is another way to cut down on crime and unnecessary arrests.

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