Growing in God's Love as an Open, Caring Community

What is happening in our communities? by Paula Baines

On Sunday, February 25, 2018, Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton stood before the congregation of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Brewer. He stated that the most often question he is asked is, “What is happening in our communities?”

Upon an invitation from the guiding team of Living Local: Joining God, Penobscot County Sheriff Troy Morton joined the service as a guest preacher and shared his reflections at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Brewer.

A man of faith and father of two, Troy Morton stated that he takes opportunities to visit various faith-based organizations and communities in the the local area.  A lot has changed in the last the twenty-eight years that he has been in law enforcement.  It used to be that any one that was into drugs, people thought that was the other person’s problem and it did not affect them. 

That has changed and no longer the case, reported Morton. Adding, that families, communities, and our churches are impacted by the current opioid crisis.

What can the church do? We need to work together replied Morton. Our country is divided. All of us together can make an impact.

The Penobscot County Sheriff’s department covers a large geographical area from Newport to Patten.  In the course of the year, five thousand new people enter jail. Penobscot County jail has the capacity for 150 inmates, on average they house 220 in the jail. Changes need to be made.  The current opioid crisis is straining the current system stated Morton.

Increased enforcement is needed and more recovery programs offered.  Each deputy has an AED unit and Narcan in their vehicle. Narcan is the drug that can prevent over dose.  Any one arrested who is under the influence and addicted to opioids gets a shot of vivtrol.Vivtrol is a drug used for opioid addiction and it works for 30 days. 

In jail, the addicts can get safe and clean. He noted that the challenge of staying clean happens after leaving jail. Many go back to environments that got them addicted.  There is a risk that once the addicts are released from jail, they could fall back into substance abuse. Another factor is mental health of some inmates.

Handling the impact of those addicted to drugs, and or have mental health problems is a challenge. Options are limited and some are controversial said Morton. 

There are ways to support recovery and that includes detox social environments. They are having positive impacts said Morton.  Many people struggle in their recovery. As a community, we to need look at ways to identify prevention. 

As a Christian, Morton said he thinks there are ways to change hearts. This could have impact on our community and how we look at addiction. Those addicted are not the only ones affected. First responders have witnessed over dose deaths and suicides. They need prayer and healing as well.  Men and women in roles as troopers, first responders, correction officers are also impacted. This is what motivates Morton to share his faith with others. 

He is concerned about the impacts of the job and current opioid crisis is having on the mental health of those in law enforcement.  Several suffer from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).  There is lots of pressure.

Members of law enforcement need wellness programs said Morton, adding that he is seeking to take the lead.

Last year, through support, Morton purchased dog tags with an American Flag with a thin blue line on it on one side and the Matthew 5:9 verse, “bless the peacemakers” on the other side.  He handed out tags to 180 men and women last year.  This is a way that Morton is one way that he is stepping forward in faith.

 Morton is looking for ways to purchase more of these dog tags for the 610 individuals who work law enforcement, corrections, and the first responders throughout the county.  

At the end of the presentation, Morton fielded questions and comments. He ended the presentation by reminding the congregation that as Christians, we need to be leaders in our communities.

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