Previously, this article inaccurately reported the program covers parts of Massachusetts. The article has been updated to reflect this error.

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Schenectady Police Department announced Tuesday the outreach portion of its Schenectady Cares program, a community assistance program that directs individuals post-overdose to recovery and rehabilitation centers, has been successfully running since midway through 2021. In that time, the Department has helped nearly 80 individuals across the Capital Region and into Massachusetts receive care, primarily through their partnerships with New Choices Recovery Center and Catholic Charities.

Lieutenant Ryan Macherone, who commands the Office of Neighborhood Engagement at the Department, originally modeled the program after similar efforts in Gloucester Massachusetts and Chatham New York. The program has been in existence since 2019.

Chief of Police Eric Clifford said Tuesday “The Schenectady Police Department exists to protect and serve the community.  Helping those with substance use disorder to seek treatment, on their own terms, is one way that we continue to serve.  We recognize the impact that substance use disorder has on our community and continue to work with our partners to reduce and eliminate its effect on our community.”

In assessing the original Schenectady Cares Program, it became apparent that only a small fraction of those struggling with substance abuse were being helped through walk-in service. After all, walking into a police station for help after an overdose can seem quite intimidating.

In response to this concern, according to Chief Clifford, beginning last summer, Lt. Macherone and Sergeant Nicholas Mannix expanded the Schenectady Cares Program to include an outreach model.  Outreach models are being used with great success in and around the Boston Massachusetts area and Clifford says his coworkers are proud to partner with New Choices Recovery Center and Catholic Charities to provide this outreach. The Schenectady Fire Department and Schenectady County Office of Community Services have been an equal partner in the implementation of this outreach model.

Lieutenant Ryan Macherone said “To briefly summarize how it works, we are notified of a non-fatal overdose by the Schenectady Fire Department or through our dispatch center and Sergeant Mannix is able to get that information to counselors and peers at New Choices and Catholic Charities.  They then reach out to the individual to offer help. Although we could try to do the outreach ourselves, we know that preventing overdoses and helping those with a substance use disorder is best handled by those who work in this field each day, and believe our role is in supporting these professionals.”

If you are currently struggling with substance abuse, the Schenectady Police Department urges you to reach out to them or one of their partners. They say they are here to help, and welcome the opportunity to do so. The station is located at 531 Liberty Street, Schenectady, New York 12305.