Covington’s Operation Angel is unconventional at treating addiction — and it’s working

COVINGTON, La. -- Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz remembers the one particular 911 call that really inspired him to start an unconventional drug recovery program in his city.

"It quite frankly really changed my life," Lentz recalled.

In the 911 call, a woman was pleading for help as her husband lay on the floor dying from a drug overdose. Thankfully, he survived, and that’s how Operation Angel came to be.

Lentz said it's a philosophical idea that helps people in the community suffering from drug addiction. Anyone -- at any time -- can walk into his police department and ask for help without getting thrown in jail.

"These people are sick. They have a disease. They are not going to get treated in jail," Lentz said.

Operation Angel was launched in 2016. So far, it has helped 132 addicts on the road to recovery within its first year.

Lentz said in addition to helping people in the community, the program saves taxpayer dollars as well.

"We were putting them in jail, taking their kids away from them, but now we're part of a culture that's putting them back together," he said.

The program, Lentz said, speaks for itself. Several prior addicts have stopped by the police station to express gratitude and say "thanks."