Captain Kevin Hunter: A Law Enforcement Veteran’s Perspective on Reaching Hearts by Changing Attitudes | Episode 3

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Shlomo Hoffman
Feb 15, 2021

Following the grand opening of Avenues Recovery at Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne police department veteran and narcotic chief Captain Kevin Hunter joins Rubber Bands and Avenues Recovery for a frank discussion on the evolution of his views on addiction and people suffering from it.

Follow his path through his eyes as he goes from making arrests, to finding real ways to help. Learn about the HART team and the amazing work they’re doing in Fort Wayne. Hear his thoughts about Measure 110, the new Oregon drug decriminalization law. Join a frank discussion about overdoses and COVID-19 lockdowns.

You’ll hear a can’t miss story about his interaction with a criminal that almost killed him, and how that later came back, in an amazing way.

To reach the HART team please call 260-427-5808

CHAPTERS

2:07 – A path to law enforcement
3:13 – Law enforcement history and humble beginnings
4:49 – Evolution of thought – a life’s journey
7:33 – A life changing conversation
9:26 – Measure 110, Oregon’s experiment with decriminalization
12:45 – HART – A program with heart
16:55″ – It doesn’t work!”
19:54 – A pandemic and overdoses, a match made anywhere but heaven
21:30 – Narcan, a lifesaver
23:00 – What can you do?
26:50 – A story that changed one man’s path, and in turn changed a city
35:10 – A message from Captain Hunter

Transcript:

Welcome to Rubber Bands, an Avenues Recovery Podcast. Conversations about the push and pull of addiction and recovery. And now, here’s your host, Shlomo Hoffman.

[0:26] Shlomo Hoffman: Hey, again, everybody. Welcome back to Rubber Bands conversations about the push and pull of addiction. We’d like to thank all of our listeners for their warm response to our previous two episodes, and we will continue to explore the different areas where we can make a difference happen.

Today, we have an amazing guest, somebody who has been helping us in a lot of different ways to battle addiction in the underground. His name is Captain Kevin Hunter, a 30-year veteran of the Ft. Wayne Police Department, a current captain in the Narcotics Division. He will be sharing with us his insight of a life dedicated to helping people and in the last number of years to stopping addiction underground. We’re going to get into a very interesting conversation, and we’re excited for all of you to hear it. Captain, thanks for coming on today. How have you been?

[1:13] Captain Kevin Hunter: Good, Shlomo. Thank you very much for having me. I surely appreciate it.

[1:18] Shlomo Hoffman: It is our greatest pleasure. Let’s begin with a little bit of your personal history. I know that you are a born and bred native of Ft. Wayne, Indiana – just to clue-in the listeners here. Avenues Recovery Center just recently opened a branch in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and the police department, led by Captain Hunter, has been so magnanimous and so gracious in helping us trying to become a true partner to the community. We’ve been looking at different areas where we can help each other, and we can help the community. Tell us a little bit; how did you get into law enforcement. Was it like every boy’s dream? You just never gave up that Halloween costume? What is your story?

[2:06] Captain Kevin Hunter: That is pretty much it. Ever since I was a little boy playing cops and robbers, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to be. I’ve wanted to be a police officer ever since I was knee-high and kept that dream alive. Eventually, I got into not only the student police but the police reserves, and then eventually got hired full-time. This is all I’ve ever wanted to do. Even though I’ve been here 30 years, I still love coming into work every day helping people because that’s really what it’s all about.

[2:44] Shlomo Hoffman: That’s amazing. That’s truly a career dedicated to the community, and we all greatly appreciate it. You’re in narcotics now. You didn’t start in narcotics?

[2:57] Captain Kevin Hunter: No.

[2:58] Shlomo Hoffman: Walk us through. What happens to become a police officer? Where do you start? Where does it go, and the twists and turns of how the career happens, and which areas you get thrown into and gain experience?

[3:13] Captain Kevin Hunter: The very first thing is, going to the Police Academy. You have to get accepted. You go through a rigorous background check, physicals, physical agility stuff. Once you get into the Police Academy, that’s when the learning starts. Our Police Academy when I went through was 20 weeks. We did just about everything from defensive tactics to report writing to firearms. You name it; we did it.

Once you graduate from the academy, then you start with a field training officer. In our program, we’re with the field training officer for six months. You change every month, so you get a variety of different experiences with different officers on different shifts.

[4:02] Shlomo Hoffman: Is it like different areas of law enforcement?

[4:05] Captain Kevin Hunter: Yes.

[4:05] Shlomo Hoffman: Like homicide, narcotics?

[4:08] Captain Kevin Hunter: Yes. Most of the time, it will be out on the road on patrol, but we also put people with a gang unit, with narcotics, with some detectives. It is an all-around experience for the officer to learn as much as they can and be guided by that training officer in that time period.

[4:32] Shlomo Hoffman: Very cool. Your wife is from Indiana?

[4:37] Captain Kevin Hunter: Yes. My wife is from Indiana. She’s from the Lafayette area.

[4:40] Shlomo Hoffman: True blue Hoosier right here.

[4:42] Captain Kevin Hunter: Yes.

[4:43] Shlomo Hoffman: High school basketball and all.

[4:44] Captain Kevin Hunter: Yes.

[4:45] Shlomo Hoffman: Very cool. There are obviously two major aspects to stopping crime. There’s actually stopping crime, and then there’s the outreach, understanding what drives people to crime, and what they’re dealing with and their challenges. We see it all the time from our perspective. We talk to the people – let’s talk about narcotics. We talk to the people that are doing drugs. We know their backgrounds. We know that there are a lot of really tough hands that are dealt.

For years, we’ve been fighting the drug war in this country with, depending who you talk to, with varying degrees of success. Give us your insight about how you first viewed it, specifically in the field of narcotics, specifically in the field of drug addiction, and how you’ve evolved in your understanding as you got to know the people on the ground, and you got to see what’s really causing them, and what kind of people they are, etc.

[5:47] Captain Kevin Hunter: Early on in my career, I tried to make as many arrests as I possibly could, whether it was for drunk driving or drug arrest, that was my goal to go out and make as many arrests as possible because that’s what cops do. They go out, and they arrest people and get them into the criminal justice system and supposedly hold them accountable for what they’ve done.

About eight years ago, I was promoted and moved to narcotics, and in my first year, we had lots of issues with drugs, and we had lots of drug dealers out there. I still believe firmly that if we can arrest a drug dealer, a true drug dealer that’s putting poison out on the streets and spreading all of this stuff to our communities and get them to stop doing that, that’s a good thing for our community.

What I’ve also seen is people who are in the throes of Substance Use Disorder, that wasn’t their goal. They maybe tried drugs a few times and eventually became hooked, and then it took over their lives. What I’ve seen is these are not bad people. These are people that maybe made a mistake that led them down the road to addiction, and they just need help in recovery.

I really think trauma also plays a huge role in Substance Use Disorder. We’re just now starting to realize that as far as law enforcement goes. We went to a raid a while back. It was a heroin-dealing house, and there were some people inside. I had just been to a training, and they suggested, “Start asking people, ‘Tell me your story.’”

I asked this woman her story, and it was one of the most horrific histories that I think I’ve ever heard, and it will always stick with me because the things that this woman endured, it’s a miracle that she was still alive, and it’s not surprising to me that she had Substance Use Disorder because if I had experienced all the things that she had experienced, I might be using drugs, too, to forget all that. Basically, Substance Use Disorder is very complicated, but there is help. There’s more help now than there was a few years ago.

[8:33] Shlomo Hoffman: It’s such a window. I know from my work here, it’s such a window into the human beings that they really are. When you go into treatment, and you see the people that are actually putting in the work who have bought in, or are beginning to buy in, or are working together with people, and you see them open up, and you see how much strength there is – the humanity in each one of these people.

Sometimes, you’ll walk down the street, and as a regular bystander, you’ll cross the street because this person looks so scary. That person is a real human being with real struggles, with real problems, and you get them in a treatment center, and you see miracles. You see that all coming out. You bring the joy back and the light back into their eyes – that smile, the sparkle.

This brings us – from a police officer’s perspective, I wanted to ask you this. There’s been a very big movement in this country to move to the criminalization of minor drug possession, not dealer possession, not dealer kind of stuff, but if somebody is using, instead of throwing them in jail trying to funnel them into treatment. Oregon has passed the law, Measure 110; many of us know about this.

They have moved to the criminalized drugs and moved the focus towards building a treatment infrastructure. We talk about treatment gap; we talk about how people are not getting treatment and how we need to make that more viable. What’s your perspective on this shift, so to speak, that’s happening in Oregon, and how we can implement it in our communities as well?

[10:11] Captain Kevin Hunter: I’ve read the Oregon Measure. I think it’s a very smart move for that state. It reclassifies minor drug offenses from incarcerable Class A Misdemeanors to a Class E Misdemeanor, which would only be a fine or a health assessment that would need to be completed. I think that’s awesome.

Also, with the idea of a telephone addiction and recovery center that’s open 24/7, 365 days a year. I think that’s also a great idea. Then I saw in the Measure, as well, that they must have physical treatment locations open by October 1st of this year. That is the key thing. If you just reclassify or declassify drugs but don’t have a treatment option available, I think that’s pointless, and it’s only going to make things worse.

Years ago, I went to a PAARI Conference, Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative. I would have loved to have brought that back to Ft. Wayne and started using that here. We just didn’t have the treatment resources available that they did on the East Coast. That wasn’t an option for us at the time. But I do think that reclassifying minor drug offenses to shifting people into treatment is a really great idea.

[11:53] Shlomo Hoffman: It’s about shifting people into treatment. From your experience, you said in the beginning, you started. You just wanted to arrest people. Then, you’re like, but we’ve got to reach people; we’ve got to get people to change, or else it just becomes a revolving door. You’re in, and you’re out, and you’re in, and you’re out. You’re seeing the same lawyers, and you’re seeing the same people, and it has to be a shift toward treatment.

A lot of the referral stuff that’s been going until now, the treatment center has been from drug courts. So if you do go ahead and declassify these minor drug offenses, and you’re not cycling them through drug courts, there has to be another option, another form of outreach to get these people to where they need to go. They need to get the treatment, and we have to get them there.

It’s not working, arresting. Tell us about your Heart program that you have implemented in Ft. Wayne and how you guys deal with people that are maybe overdosing. Maybe you find them with drugs, encouraging them, and follow-up with them, and getting them to the place that they need to go, which is treatment.

[13:01] Captain Kevin Hunter: A few years ago, we started partnering with several different community people within Ft. Wayne. The Lutheran Foundation, Parkview Hospital, the Court system, and a bunch of other treatment facilities. We wanted to do something different because what we had been doing was not working well for us.

So, we came up with this idea of a true deflection program. We called it the Hope and Recovery Team. What we’ve done is we’ve tasked several detectives from the narcotics division. What they do is they come in the morning; they look up non-fatal overdose runs from the night before and then go out and try to make contact with those people with a Parkview peer recovery coach.

[13:56] Shlomo Hoffman: Let me jump in here. Is there like a circle that’s going from the emergency medical technician to the EMTs or anybody that would be on call? Is a police officer at every overdose? How are you getting to the people that are overdosing? What’s that process like?

[14:14] Captain Kevin Hunter: In Ft. Wayne, the process could be one of two ways. It could just be an EMS run that the EMS goes to, let’s say, somewhere and revives somebody from a non-fatal overdose, and maybe they refuse treatment, or they refuse to go to the hospital, and that’s the end of it. Or, possibly, the police get involved, and a report is filed, and then those officers get that report the next day, the Heart officers get the report the next day, and then go and follow up. They make contact with that person.

[14:51] Shlomo Hoffman: So, they’ll actually knock on a door?

[14:53] Captain Kevin Hunter: Oh, yes. Yeah, they knock on the door, whether it’s a hotel, whether it’s a house, whether it’s their family’s house. They try to reach out to them in any way they can.

[15:04] Shlomo Hoffman: And it’s important not to seem threatening?

[15:07] Captain Kevin Hunter: No.

[15:08] Shlomo Hoffman: Like, “We want to help. We’re not coming to arrest you. We’re not coming to put you anywhere. We just want to help you.”

[15:15] Captain Kevin Hunter: Yeah, and these guys are not wearing police uniforms. They’re wearing regular clothes, jeans, and polo shirts with the Heart logo on it, and just talking to them like human beings and say, “Look. You have options. You almost died the other night, and we know that’s not a good thing, and we don’t want you to die. Here are some options for you. And maybe you’re not ready today, but when you are ready, we’re here to help.”

[15:47] Shlomo Hoffman: Is there a second follow-up, or there’s one follow-up?

[15:50] Captain Kevin Hunter: Oh, yeah. They’ll do multiple follow-ups. The peer recovery coaches stay in touch with the person as much as possible. Then, if the peer recovery coaches haven’t heard from the person in a while, the Heart detectives will go out and knock on the door and check up on them and see how they’re doing.

[16:10] Shlomo Hoffman: And the Heart team has connections with the various different treatment centers in the area?

[16:17] Captain Kevin Hunter: Yes.

[16:19] Shlomo Hoffman: They’re building those relationships, and those referrals work like that?

[16:22] Captain Kevin Hunter: Yes. I know that we’ve taken people to Avenues before, and you all have been very, very accommodating and helpful for us.

[16:31] Shlomo Hoffman: That’s it. See. This is what the Captain is talking about. This is from the day I met the Captain; this is what he’s been pushing – moving away from punitive measures, moving away from arrests, trying to reach people, trying to talk to their hearts, and getting them help – figuring it out. “What can we do for you? Where can we move you?” This is the kind of law enforcement that we love.

[16:54] Captain Kevin Hunter: I’ve said this over and over again: if we could arrest our way out of this, we already would not have a drug issue. But it doesn’t work. So, we’ve got to do something different, and this is something different.

[17:09] Shlomo Hoffman: Amazing. Amazing stuff. Have you been tracking? Is there a tangible way to measure the effect that the Heart team has been having on the community in terms of referrals growing? Is there word-of-mouth getting around? Is there enough exposure? How can we help? How can we expose? Everyone should know about this? If you have a loved one that’s overdosed, reach out to us. We’re going to try to help you as much as we can. We have those resources, and we want to bring them to the people.

[17:42] Captain Kevin Hunter: One thing that the Heart detectives are doing is going out to all the hotels and public spaces and put their fliers up that say, “If you need help, we’re here to help. Here’s a number that you can call. Someone will call you back right away.” So, we’ve got a hotline number set up right now that anybody can call in and say, “I want to get some help right now,” and they’ll get a call back within minutes from the peer recovery coach. That has worked really, really well for us.

[18:18] Shlomo Hoffman: Incredible.

[18:20] Captain Kevin Hunter: The other thing that we’re doing is anytime we can talk publicly about the Heart program, we’re doing it. The more people know that we’re out here and see that we’re out here, the word spreads. The guys are showing up at different places, and they’re saying, “Oh, here are the Heart guys.” People come up to them and ask them for Narcan because we give out Narcan every time we meet somebody because we know Narcan saves lives. Any way we can help people, that’s what we’re trying to do at this point.

[18:56] Shlomo Hoffman: It’s a really, really important initiative. When we heard about it, we loved it. We’ve been doing everything we can to partner with you guys, and if it would grow in other communities, these kinds of ideas, and this kind of teamwork, and these kinds of partnerships, I think we would all be a lot better for it. Taking what Oregon is trying to show, even if the laws haven’t changed, but within what we have now, we can figure out ways to reach people and to get people the treatment before they get caught up in the legal system, etc.

Let’s talk about the pandemic a little bit in terms of narcotics. Together with you guys, we did a research and data project in terms of overdoses rising, etc., in the last year or so. How have you seen it as an underground law enforcement officer in terms of crime spikes and in terms of overdose numbers? What has that been like navigating through this pandemic?

[20:02] Captain Kevin Hunter: Overall, crime has been down for us, for the most part, this last year, and I know that when people are locked in their homes, and they’re not going out and about, that is going to have an effect on crime. What we’ve seen, though, is we’ve seen an increase in non-fatal overdoses this last year.

We actually set a record in 2020 with 1,243 non-fatal overdoses last year. The previous record was 2017 at 1,200 non-fatal overdoses. I don’t have the total number of overdose deaths this year, but it is possible we could set a record for those as well. I think what we’re seeing is a lot of the fake prescription pills that contain Fentanyl. They seem to be everywhere at this point. I think that is why the non-fatal overdose numbers are as high as they are is that people think they’re getting one thing. They take it, they’re overdosing, and they’re having issues.

[21:13] Shlomo Hoffman: They didn’t have tolerance for that specific drug.

[21:15] Captain Kevin Hunter: No. No. Especially if it’s Fentanyl, and most of these contain Fentanyl. If they’re not used to that or if it’s too big of a dose, they’re overdosing. That’s not a good situation.

[21:30] Shlomo Hoffman: Is there any idea, in terms of Narcan availability, I know there have been great strides in making that happen, making it available, not having people to get licenses, just basically training people. What do you think? Is there a way to make it available? Is it available on the streets? If somebody is walking by, and he sees an overdose, is there a way they can get Narcan? Even like stations or something like that – almost like a vending machine. I don’t know how exactly it would work, but something crazy like that?

[22:05] Captain Kevin Hunter: It’s interesting you should bring that up because the governor just has a new initiative called NaloxBox. It’s a new program. They want to put, like the defibrillator, for when people have heart attacks – the boxes in businesses. They want to put Narcan out in boxes out in the community. That’s a new program. I think that’s going to really be helpful and successful.

I also know that the local health departments give out Narcan on a regular basis through their syringe service program. The Hope and Recovery team guys go out, and we give Narcan out to whoever needs it. Narcan is definitely a lifesaver, and it definitely helps people reverse from an overdose.

[23:00] Shlomo Hoffman: If somebody would ask you – you’re in a position where you deal with addiction; you deal with narcotics. You also have the resources of the police department, and there are different ways we can help you. Obviously, you’re very creative about it; you, obviously, care a lot, and you’re very passionate about it, and you’re one of the good guys.

If someone from the community would ask you, “Captain, what can I do? I work a regular job. I want to help. I feel like there’s something I can do. I just don’t know what. How can I, as a community member, be involved in helping our community make real strides in the opioid epidemic, make real strides in helping people, make real strides in saving lives? How can I, a little guy – I go to my job. I work in my office. What can I do?” If someone asked you that question, Captain, what would you say to them?

[23:49] Captain Kevin Hunter: One thing I would say is to get some Narcan and know how to use it and be available if somebody would happen to overdose in front of you and be able to deploy that Narcan and call 911 for help. I will tell you that I think Overdose Lifeline is coming up with some new programs here in the state of Indiana.

Let me back up. Overdose Lifeline is an organization that gives out Narcan to the community within the state of Indiana. They’re working on some programs to try to get people with Narcan out into the community with some kind of app that would alert them if somebody’s having an overdose near them, so they could respond and then deploy that Narcan.

[24:40] Shlomo Hoffman: Let’s jump back to the data for a minute. You did such great work in compiling all this stuff, and the numbers that we used for our project, you so graciously shared with us. How does that help you in terms of practical policing on the ground, compiling those numbers? Is it a question of shifting manpower in different neighborhoods? Is it just a better understanding of what we’re dealing with, different drugs, different expertise? How does that help you? A lot of people are bored by numbers, but numbers can really be helpful.

[25:15] Captain Kevin Hunter: They can. That’s what I see it as is, knowledge is power because if I don’t know that something is – like, we’re starting to see more of this drug, I don’t realize that maybe that’s a trend, and maybe there’s something we can do to get in front of that. Fentanyl has been trending, definitely last year.

Getting Narcan out because we know Fentanyl is deadly and we know people overdose on that, and telling the officers, “Look. Any white powder white substance you get off of somebody, take extra precaution. Don’t get it in your eyes, nose, or mouth. Be careful when you handle it because you could accidentally expose yourself to Fentanyl.” Getting ahead of these trends is one way that statistics can help us, I think.

[26:13] Shlomo Hoffman: You do really great work.

[26:15] Captain Kevin Hunter: Well, thank you.

[26:16] Shlomo Hoffman: Law enforcement is dangerous, and it can be harrowing. You shared with us a story, and it’s a really incredible story because I feel like it’s the way your career tracked. The story that you told as you started arresting people, and then you realized that we have to reach out to people. I would love if you would share with our listeners that story of what it’s like to be on the ground and to see real growth, and even have some sort of relationship.

[26:51] Captain Kevin Hunter: In the early ‘90s, I was a very aggressive officer. By aggressive, I mean in the number of arrests that I made. I was also Field Training Officer. One day I had a reserve police officer with me. We were out on patrol, and we had an ice storm the night before. The roads were really slick. We see this van driving, and it made several traffic violations. So, we stopped this van, and it pulled into an alley and got stuck on the ice.

I called it out. We approached the van, talked to the driver, and I asked the usual question, “Do you have any guns, knives, or other devices on you.” He said, “No.” But he reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of bullets, and threw them on the dash. Right away, that made me very suspicious and cautious. I unsnapped my holster and asked him to get out of the vehicle to pat him down and make sure he didn’t have any weapons on his person.

I had my partner come around, and we did that. As I was patting him down, I found drugs on his person. I started to take him into custody and fell to the ground because it was slick. He, in turn, reached over me. My gun was unsnapped. He took my gun from my holster and ended up pointing it at me and running away. He was on the run for about a year. I did get my gun back. At some point, he was arrested and ended up pleading guilty to the charges and ended up doing prison time as a result of that.

I got notice when he was released from prison. He did about seven and a half years of an 11-year sentence. I didn’t think any more about it. Well, I went back to school to finish my Bachelor’s Degree because I hadn’t finished that yet, and one Saturday morning in a class that I was taking, I look over on the very first day of class, and who do I see? I see this gentleman that I had stopped and had taken my gun. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to do because I didn’t expect that. Like, “What do I do? I need this class. I’ve got to have this class to graduate. Do I leave? What do I do?” Every class, you introduce yourself.

[29:47] Shlomo Hoffman: A little awkward.

[29:48] Captain Kevin Hunter: Oh, yeah. It was very awkward, and he knew me, too.

[29:53] Shlomo Hoffman: Awkward moment alert.

[29:54] Captain Kevin Hunter: Yes. Very. But, interestingly, on a break, he approached me and said, “Look. I just want to tell you I am really, really sorry for what happened, and I want to let you know I was addicted to drugs at the time. That’s what caused me to do what I did, and I’m really, really sorry for what I did, but I’m doing better. I’m not on drugs anymore, and I’m in this class working on a degree.” I think it was hotel management.

[30:30] Shlomo Hoffman: Wow.

[30:32] Captain Kevin Hunter: That was a lightbulb moment for me that not everybody that uses or is addicted or has Substance Use Disorder is a bad person because here was the most awful experience of my career, and yet, here I am seeing him in class, and we’re having a conversation. I would have never ever–

[30:59] Shlomo Hoffman: Not something you would have ever pictured. Right?

[31:02] Captain Kevin Hunter: No. No.

[31:02] Shlomo Hoffman: You wouldn’t have written that script?

[31:03] Captain Kevin Hunter: No. Not at all.

[31:09] Shlomo Hoffman: It’s so important for people to hear this that this is really what it’s about. This is the idea that these people are trapped by something so much more powerful than them, and if they don’t have the tools to fight it, then they could be led to the worse things: the life of crime and worse. It could get really bad. If we give them a shot, and we show them empathy, compassion, a certain sense of belief, and a sense that someone’s giving them a second chance, and somebody believes in them, and getting them into treatment could really change lives – the lives of themselves, the lives of people around them, and lives of people that are involved with them.

Here, we have a police officer who sees it for real. This is what’s going on. This person scared the bejeebers out of me, and he looked like the most awful, dangerous human being I’ve ever seen, and he’s a man today. He has his life together, he’s worked on himself, and you see a real core strength there. There’s a human heart that’s beating. We have to do everything possible to get it out.

Before we go further, I do want to mention – I think this is important just to bring out what Captain Hunter is about. Captain Hunter mentioned – he’s sitting here in his full police uniform today. He lost a friend on the force. They were at the academy together. It’s not an easy day for him. He could have canceled. We had this planned for a while, and he could have canceled on us, but he didn’t because Captain Hunter is the type of person that’s really passionate about the community, and he wants to get the word out.

We need to get people to treatment. We need to help people, so he came to do this meeting, and he’s continuing his work. I really, really want to express my appreciation for you coming out today and continuing the work and building on the legacy that your friend left behind. So, may he rest in peace.

[33:07] Captain Kevin Hunter: Yeah. Thank you so much. I really appreciate that.

[33:11] Shlomo Hoffman: On the ground of treatment, what’s it like? Are we dealing with a gap? Do we need more stuff on the ground? I know we have now, Avenues in Ft. Wayne. It’s filling a gap. There’s a new treatment center. It’s important that people know about it. It’s important that people know that we’re here to help the community. I’d love to hear about your experiences about just having another place. How does that help you guys in terms of the partnership that we’ve been experiencing?

[33:43] Captain Kevin Hunter: Yeah. I’ll go back to what I said initially. A few years ago, we just didn’t have very many treatment options. We had a couple, but they were all full because there was nothing else around. The more treatment options that we have available, the better it is for our community because what might be good for me might not be good for my friend.

So, having multiple options of treatment possibilities, I think, is really, really helpful. Certainly, the different options that we have right now are much better than what we had a few years ago, but I think every community could probably use more. It’s just the more options available, the more people can choose from those options and get into treatment.

[34:34] Shlomo Hoffman: Captain, it’s been amazing talking with you, and everything that you’ve given us, really, you’ve just been so gracious and so warm and so welcoming, and we hope to continue to give back to you guys.

[34:50] Captain Kevin Hunter: Well, thank you.

[34:50] Shlomo Hoffman: Is there a message that you want to share with anybody that’s listening about understanding the opioid epidemic and understanding what each person can do and how each person can make a difference?

[35:07] Captain Kevin Hunter: Yeah. The one really big message I’d like to tell people is, someone with Substance Use Disorder has not been a moral failure. Addiction is a disease, and we need to look at it that way. So, instead of looking down on somebody that they made poor choices in life, let’s look at somebody with compassion and empathy, and how can we help that person get back to living life like they should? Knowing addiction is a disease, I think, is really important, and then knowing that law enforcement and first responders, our goal is to save lives. If we can save a life by getting somebody into recovery, that is amazing, and we’ve completed our mission.

[36:03] Shlomo Hoffman: Thank you so much, Captain. You’ve heard it here from a Law Enforcement Officer with 30 years of experience who runs a Narcotics Department who understands and who believes that we can do more with extended treatment, making treatment available, getting people into treatment, and not just responding punitively, and not giving up on people, giving people a lifeline, giving people a rope, giving people a chance. This is what this man believes in; this is what this man does. Captain Hunter, thank you so much for your time, for your graciousness, for your partnership, and we’ll continue to be in touch in the future.

If anyone wants to look at any of the various projects that we have partnered together with the Ft. Wayne Police Department, with data sets, etc., they are up on our website at avenuesrecoveryindiana.com. Captain, you’ll have it up on your website as well: fwpd.org.

[36:55] Captain Kevin Hunter: Yes.

[36:56] Shlomo Hoffman: And we will be partnering in future partnerships together. You can always look out for that stuff on either our website or the Ft. Wayne Police Department website. Guys, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. It’s been a pleasure talking to Captain Hunter. Thank you for your time. Please listen, subscribe, rate, and share our podcast because talking about addiction, understanding people that are addicted, and understanding the way out and the way we can help is the way we save lives and make our way out of the opioid epidemic. Thank you all for listening. Have a wonderful, wonderful week.

[End of Episode 3 – 37:54]

Music by:
“Strength of the Titans”
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Since joining the Avenues Recovery content team, Shlomo has become a thought leader in the addiction field. His popular addiction podcast "Rubber Bands" is a must listen for anyone involved in Substance abuse treatment. He is a Seinfeld junkie, a recovering Twitter fanatic, and a sports expert. He enjoys milk shakes and beautiful views from rooftops.

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