NEW BEDFORD- The Greater New Bedford Opioid Task Force held a press conference today to present plans for a drop-in center for those struggling with opioid use and addiction in the city.

Mayor Jon Mitchell joined Chief of Police Joseph Cordeiro to explain the necessity of the drop-in center to the city as well as its logistics. Seated behind Cordeiro and Mitchell were representatives of the other members of the task force, a coalition of city organizations and agencies who voluntarily have joined the fight against addiction.

The drop-in center will operate monthly at various community or worship centers. Those seeking help will be provided with Narcan and its proper training, referrals to licensed professionals, and other support services.

Mayor Mitchell began the conference discussing the severity of the modern-day heroin epidemic, especially in Massachusetts. New Bedford saw 40 overdoses to opioids in 2016, resulting in New Bedford becoming one of the first cities in the state to arm all of its officers with Narcan.

“Its really a public-health phenomenon and problem that we haven’t seen before” said Mitchell. “The spread of addiction has devastated so many families in New Bedford, Greater New Bedford, and beyond.”

Chief of Police Joseph Cordeiro also spoke of the drop-in center and what visitors will expect. Cordeiro also announced that the drop-in center will change its outreach program to a 24-hour response after an overdose.

As Chairman of the task force, Cordeiro also praised the program and its voluntary contributors throughout the city.

“This is a true representation of the city of New Bedford,” said the chief. “We have dedicated, heart-warming, caring individuals who want to seriously make a change in their city.”

Co-Chairman of the task force, Dr. Michael Rocha of Physicians to Prevent Opioid Abuse, echoed Chief Corderio’s words as he closed out the press conference. Praising the efforts the city has made so far, Rocha described the need for their support as “unprecedented” to the community.

“We have the power to make this community a beacon of change,” Dr. Rocha said.

“No community would be more important to turn the tide than New Bedford, the city by the sea,” he said.

The first drop-in center will be held Thursday night, June 22nd from 6:00pm-8:00pm at the Pilgrim United Church on 634 Purchase Street in New Bedford.