Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal developed Operation Helping Hand as a new way to combat opioid addiction in Bergen County while serving as the County Prosecutor in 2016. At that time, the Operation Helping Hand strategy began with law enforcement officers arresting users purchasing heroin – or, in some cases, other narcotics – at open-air drug markets.
When the users were brought to the police station or prosecutor’s office for processing on narcotics possession charges, recovery specialists and other healthcare partners were waiting to connect them with treatment and recovery services. The charges were not dropped if the user accepted help, but every effort was made to place him or her on the path to recovery. Operation Helping Hand has been steadily expanding to more counties since 2018 as part of Governor Murphy and Attorney General Grewal’s all-hands-on-deck strategy for combatting the opioid epidemic.