MIDDLEBURG — Hummels United Methodist Church in Middleburg was the setting Wednesday evening for state and local law enforcement to get the word out about a new program to help people with drug and alcohol addictions to get into treatment without fear of arrest.
Pastor Carvel May invited Snyder County District Attorney Michael Piecuch and Agent Janene Holter of the State Attorney General’s Office to speak to about 40 congregants about the Law Enforcement Treatment Initiative (LETI) that operates in 14 counties and has helped get more than 100 people into treatment since 2018.
“For us, as Christians, we’re in the business to help people,” said May who was asked by church member and Shamokin Dam police officer Eric Hassenplug to host the informational meeting.
“This is the easiest way to get it out to the public and let people know there are resources out there,” Hassenplug said.
Church member Debbie Reichenbach was among the community members who attended the meeting.
“Helping people who are struggling is our mission,” she said. “They have to have a support system.”
Holter said each county’s LETI program is tailored to the needs of its community. In Snyder County, anyone struggling with substance addiction or knows someone who needs help may contact any police officer in the county, the DA, Sheriff, probation or Children and Youth Services and ask for a referral to a treatment program.
“Don’t be afraid by that phone call,” she said, adding that officers are trained to assist individuals through the process.
Offenders who are facing minor charges as a result of addiction may also avoid charges if they voluntarily agree to seek and complete treatment, Holter said.
The aim of the program “is to save lives,” said Piecuch.
Shamokin Dam borough police Chief Timothy Bremigen shared a personal story about the death of his cousin after a nine-month battle with opioid addiction that began when he was prescribed medication following an injury.
“It’s important that you know drugs are in the community,” said Bremigen, who added that the LETI program is taking care of people who fall prey to drugs and alcohol. “These people need our help.”
Getting people into treatment and recovery creates safer communities and healthier families, said Holter who cited a statistic that 80,000 grandparents in Pennsylvania are raising their grandchildren because the parent or parents have died from an addiction or are unable to care for the children because of a substance use disorder.
“We won’t stop the stigma without having a conversation about it,” said Holter.
Anyone who needs assistance with a substance use disorder can contact Columbia Montour Snyder Union Drug and Alcohol at 800-222-9016.