LACOMBE, La (press release) – The New Orleans Mission and the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office have formed new partnership that they hope will help struggling addicts in St. Bernard Parish find recovery instead of ending up behind bars. During a special event March 4 at the New Orleans Mission’s Giving Hope Retreat in Lacombe, St. Bernard Parish Sheriff James Pohlmann announced the department’s participation in the New Orleans Mission’s Operation Angel initiative. St. Bernard is the third law enforcement agency in the Greater New Orleans area to adopt this program in partnership with the New Orleans Mission.

“Instead of throwing addicts in jail, we want to see them get the help they need to transform their lives and become productive members of our community,” says Sheriff James Pohlmann. “Through Operation Angel, any individual suffering from an addiction can show up at the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office to ask for help, surrender their drugs without fear of being arrested, and an ‘angel’ brings them to the Giving Hope Retreat to begin their physical, emotional and spiritual recovery process.”

Additionally, New Orleans Mission Executive Director David Bottner announced that one of the newly renovated male dormitories at the Giving Hope Retreat will become a dedicated space for addicts from St. Bernard Parish. The dorm, which houses 20 men in the Mission’s year-long recovery program, was recently refurbished thanks to a generous donation from the Louisiana Crawfish Fest Foundation of St. Bernard.

“We are seeing God transform men’s lives every day at our Giving Hope Retreat. Thanks to the leadership and wisdom of Sheriff Pohlman and the generous contribution from the Louisiana Crawfish Fest Foundation, dozens of men from St. Bernard will find recovery from their addiction and get a second chance at life,” says Bottner.

Event attendees were given tours of the newly renovated dormitory and had the opportunity to hear first-hand from some of the residents in the recovery program. Special guests in attendance at the event included Troy Duhon, Giving Hope Retreat board member and owner of Premier Automotive; Joe Georgusis, local businessman and addiction advocate; Cisco Gonzales, Chairman of the Louisiana Crawfish Fest Foundation of St. Bernard; and Dan Schneider, who was featured in the recent opioid epidemic documentary “The Pharmacist” on Netflix.