Special Offenders Unit
Operation Helping Hand
OCPO created Ocean County Helping Hand (hereinafter referred to as OCHH) utilizing grant funding from the Office of the Attorney General via Operation Helping Hand. One of the many goals of this initiative is to link individuals with substance abuse issues and their families to appropriate treatment plans utilizing a multifaceted approach. OCHH is tasked to provide eligible municipal court defendants with the opportunity to take part in immediate addiction treatment services rather than continue with traditional prosecution of pending municipal court charges. OCHH is currently operating programming out of Toms River Municipal Court, formally named the Trident Program.
Additionally, the First Step Program (FSP) matches individuals that have overdosed with immediate peer support, guidance and recovery opportunities. FSP acknowledges that the first step in engaging in or seeking treatment is often the most difficult. Utilizing a community based mental health agency, in coordination with Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office staff and/or municipal police officers, the FSP responds to overdose victims identified by designated police departments. The FSP then provides them with an introduction to a certified recovery specialist, as well as access and/ or referrals to clinicians for evaluation and treatment of substance use concerns. The FSP also recognizes that many drug overdoses are fatal. To this end, the FSP provides linkage to immediate peer support, guidance and recovery opportunities for surviving family members of overdose victims as well. The first step of seeking help for substance use disorder is often the most difficult and the First Step Program is here to take that step with individuals in our community.
Another component of OCHH is the Community Outreach, Training and Education Program (COTE) with the purpose to educate the public on substance use disorder and to perform local outreach to ensure that early intervention is available to individuals who have not been linked with services. COTE staff members attend community events in an attempt to identify those in need of addiction services and provide education on such services to these individuals and their family members and/ or loved ones. The COTE Program also has a mobile support vehicle that provides a discreet environment for individuals to be assessed and quickly linked with care. In addition to educating the public, COTE also provides continuing education opportunities for treatment providers in our community to promote the proper identification, assessment and treatment of individuals with substance use disorder. The COTE Program seeks to ensure that individuals in the throes of addiction who want help are aware of how, when and where they can receive it. With community outreach, training and education, we can battle addiction together.