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CPD hopes reduce threat from addiction’s aftermath

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HUDSON – Village of Chatham Police Chief Peter Volkmann has introduced a special service being added to the Chatham Cares 4U (CC4U) program. Speaking at the Hudson Library on Saturday, March 25, the chief told the crowd that after a person seeking help with their addiction is placed in treatment through CC4U, the family can request to have a drug sniffing dog to check the person’s home for leftover or hidden drugs.

The dogs are there to “check the house to make sure it’s safe,” he said.

Chief Volkmann, who heads the all-part-time Village of Chatham Police Department, started the CC4U program last summer. Based on a program in Gloucester, MA, people struggling with addition can come to the village police station and ask for help. The police will find a treatment bed for the person and transport him or her to the treatment center at no cost to the person. People who come in for help will also not be arrested by the police, as long as they are not the subject of any outstanding warrants.

Village Chatham Police Chief Peter Volkmann addresses the crowd at the Hudson Library on March 25. The chief was invited by county Democratic Party leaders to discuss his Chatham Cares 4U program. Photo by Emilia Teasdale

Invited to speak about the program by The Columbia County Democrats, the chief took questions from the audience after describing the program and he introduced Chatham Police Officer Dave Harrington, who runs a private company that trains drug sniffing dogs for private and commercial use. Mr. Harrington and his son were recently appointed part-time officers in the Chatham PD.

Mr. Harrington told the audience that the dogs are used for safety. He said that he and the chief were still working out the details for how the dogs from his company, called Specialized K9 Detection Service, would be used in CC4U program. Right now, the plan is that if a dog senses the possible presence of some kind of drug in a home, Mr. Harrington said that in his private work the onus for what to do if drugs are found falls on his client. According to the company’s Facebook page, “the service is completely confidential and will not involve law enforcement without your consent.”

As for the CC4U, the program has helped over 80 people find treatment around the state. Chief Volkmann told the crowd that someone had reached out to the program late that night and Chatham Lieutenant Joseph Alessi had found the person a bed at a treatment facility.

People at the gathering asked how they could get a program like this in their community. Chief Volkmann said that he has been contacted by other police forces in the state but he said he has not been approached by the Hudson Police Department. He told audience members, “The best thing I can say is go to the chief” in their community.

He also said getting the word out about the program was an important way to create advocacy.

“I don’t think that you need to push anybody, just start the conversation,” he said. He also stressed that the conversation needs to be on the county level as well.

As part of his remarks Chief Volkmann talked about funding and how much it costs his part-time department to run the program. When one person asked about grants and funding, Mr. Volkmann’s mother, who is a grant writer and attended the meeting, said that if anyone knew of any grant sources they could contact the chief and she would help write the grant.

Representatives from other organizations like Columbia Pathways to Recovery (CPR), a group that meets once a month in Chatham but plans to reach out to other places in the county, and the Hudson Chapter of Youth in Recovery were also in the audience to talk about the program and the services programs they offer.

When asked where else he’s given this presentation, Mr. Volkmann said he’d been ask to speak in Chatham and here. He said he was happy to talk about the program.

For more information about the CC4U program go to www.facebook.com/chathamcares4u/.

To contact the Chatham Police Department call 518 392-3451 or go to the Tracy Memorial on Main Street in Chatham.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email eteasdale@columbiapaper.com

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