Hoboken is one of five New Jersey transit hubs set to receive state funding for the “Operation Helping Hand” program where law enforcement officers connect individuals suffering from opioid addiction with treatment and/or recovery support services.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Drawn from the $100 million that Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) administration committed to combatting the opioid epidemic this fiscal year, $1.9 million of the funding announced today will be made available to the 21 counties – each of which is running its own Operation Helping Hand program.
Additionally, $200,000 will be made available to the state-owned public transportation system to expand and enhance its law enforcement-led outreach efforts in key rail and bus transit hubs throughout the state.
“Transit hubs have long been a refuge for individuals struggling with substance use disorders, mental health conditions, and homelessness, which often go hand-in-hand,” Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement.
“The Operation Helping Hand grant funding we are announcing today demonstrates our commitment to helping these individuals get the help they need. Each new Operation Helping Hand partnership we forge puts more boots on the ground in our battle to end the addiction epidemic in New Jersey.”
The state funding announced today will allow NJ Transit for the first time to establish an Operation Helping Hand program in five designated transit hubs, and outlying transit areas as needed.
The designated hubs were chosen based on NJ Transit intelligence and statewide overdose data and also include Newark Penn Station, the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden, the Atlantic City Bus Terminal, and the Trenton Transit Station.
Grewal developed Operation Helping Hand as a new way to combat opioid addiction in Bergen County while serving as their county prosecutor in 2016.
Under his leadership as Attorney General, the first multi-county Operation Helping Hand initiative was launched in five counties in June 2018.
Through the use of federal and state funding, the Operation Helping Hand programs have now been established in all 21 counties in the state as of September 2019.
Counties are given flexibility to adapt the Operation Helping Hand strategy to meet local needs, as long as their programs rely on relationships with community healthcare partners and incorporate proactive outreach by law enforcement officers to serve as a point of entry for treatment and/or recovery support services.