City police chief lauds drug court graduates
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | April 03,2013
Chelsea Wright photo
Rutland Police Chief James Baker congratulates the graduates of the Rutland Drug Court program Tuesday.
As a guest speaker at a graduation ceremony for recovering drug addicts, Rutland Police Chief James Baker said Tuesday that the achievements of those who rebuilt their lives after drug abuse led them to ruin gave him hope for the city.
Standing before a courtroom filled with Rutland Drug Court participants, friends and family members, Baker said the road the graduates traveled to success mirrored his own hopes for reducing a problem with heroin and other illegal drugs that has plagued Rutland for more than a decade.
“I came simply because I wanted the graduates to hear from the police chief,” he said, standing before the graduates in full uniform. “I recognize the enormous problem in the area surrounding addiction. It’s not as easy as arresting our way out of it.”
Baker, who has been trying to build a coalition of agencies to address drug abuse issues using a holistic approach including the addition of a methadone clinic to the community, told the graduates that only the success of treatment and prevention efforts could reduce drug crimes in the city.
“It’s not as simple as the number of arrests we make or bags of heroin we seize,” he said. “The solution isn’t in the police department, it’s in the community.”
Keith Tallon, district manager of the probation and parole office in Rutland, also said the successes of the three graduates who completed the long-term, rigorously supervised drug court program gave him hope.
“I see every day those who are not so successful,” he said. “It’s discouraging. But when I’m here for graduation it motivates me....I now challenge you to help someone else succeed because as you know, this city as a whole has a big problem.”
Every participant in the drug court program ran afoul of the law before they entered the program, which is designed to divert eligible offenders with drug addiction issues out of the criminal court. Those who graduate from the program have their criminal offenses expunged. Those who do not return to the criminal court to face prosecution.
The graduates on Tuesday each faced challenges on their way to sobriety — none more so than Chad Bourn of Rutland.
At a minimum, drug court requires 240 days of sobriety and work with case managers to complete.
In Bourn’s case, the 27-year-old said it took three years to earn the certificate he received from drug court Judge Francis McCaffrey on Tuesday.
“You had some dips?” the judge said during the ceremony.
“Yes, quite a few. More than I can count,” Bourn responded.
But Bourn, who struggled to overcome an addiction to crack cocaine, said that after every failure he found the will to move on. Bourn said it has been seven months since he used drugs.
“I never thought I could make it where I am today,” said Bourn, who received hugs from a number of people in the courtroom after he received his certificate. “I didn’t think I was worth it.”
But asked by the judge if he thought he was worth it now, Bourn said he has come to realize that his life has value and he told those in the room still working their way through the program that they needed to reach the same conclusion.
“Stick around till the miracle happens,” he said.
Twenty-eight-year-old Jennifer Dido also told McCaffrey that she never thought she would graduate.
“Before I came in here everything was crazy. I ruined a lot of relationships,” the Mendon woman said. “But I dedicated myself to a better life and I got through. I struggled 11 years with addiction.”
Now clean for 13 months, Dido told the judge that she planned to continue meeting with her counselor and attending group meetings to stay off drugs.