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In exchange for drugs, Nashville police offer help

If you have a drug problem, the Nashville Police Department wants to help you kick it.

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If you have a drug problem, the Nashville Police Department wants to help you kick it.

While Nashville police are serious about helping people get clean, not everyone thinks that message is sincere.

In a small town like Nashville, North Carolina, there are very few secrets. Thomas Spikes' life was no exception.

“Our town is flooded with heroin," said Spikes, who is a former drug user.

Former users like Spikes and 28-year-old Matthew Lewis say they barely escaped what they describe as the heroin epidemic.

“It was just a small fleeting moment that I broke out, and thank God the (Nashville police) chief had this program, and I was able to at least get information," Lewis said.

Lewis and Spikes beat the odds thanks to Nashville Police Chief Thomas Bashore and the Hope Initiative, which he launched last year. The program allows addicts to come in and turn in their drugs. In exchange, authorites promise support, no questions asked and no charges filed.

“When the first individual started to come into the police department, it was a trust thing that we had to show this wasn't a trick," Bashore said. "We weren't trying to get you in here so that we could find out where you buy your stuff at so that we could go conduct a raid ... we truly cared.”

Bashore says building that kind of trust with a community that is used to hiding from law enforcement has taken time.

While they’ve had 170 people enroll in the program, the police department has the capacity to help many more.

“One of the big things we wanted to do was to try to reduce the stigma in the community so that more people would seek out help and try to get into recovery," Bashore said.

That’s why they began building relationships, one conversation at a time…

“It’s our job as public officials, first responders, law enforcement, EMS and fire to help anybody that’s in need," Bashore said.

It’s that duty that Bashore says will continue to inspire him to save as many lives as possible.

Both Spikes and Lewis, are current participants in the Hope Initiative.

They have both been sober for almost a year.


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