PASA Holds Meeting To Set Direction For Future

By Albert Dadson, AAP Intern

The Pennsauken Alliance on Substance Abuse (PASA) invited the community to a planning meeting on July 19 at the PYAA Field House. Bill Finnegan, coordinator for the group and a teacher at Pennsauken High School, was optimistic about the large turnout by residents who came to help solve the problem of substance abuse in the community.

“The reaction to the meeting was great,” said Finnegan. “I am encouraged by the people that came out and I am even more encouraged by the enthusiasm and the interest. I feel that people will come again because of the interest they had.”

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss new ways to be effective in the community and to help stop substance abuse related crimes. To help further define PASA’s potential role in Pennsauken, Finnegan had Lieutenant Brendan Barton of the Gloucester Township Police make a presentation to show what could be implemented to help substance abuse victims.

Barton stressed avoiding “first gear policing,” where only arrests are made and there is no follow-up involved. Instead, Barton talked about the importance of “third gear policing,” going into homes, following up on individuals involved in the arrest, and finding out the underlying problem behind the substance abuse.

Gloucester Township Police also has a program called “Handshakes not Handcuffs,” a program for children who have had involvement with the police or who have been referred by a parent or guardian. The goal of this program is to teach human enrichment, community pride, anti-bullying, peer support, and substance abuse awareness.

Finnegan felt the meeting was very productive and will help inspire new ideas for PASA in the future.

PASA is a municipal alliance that receives grant money for different activities that include Project Graduation, the mock car crash for high school seniors before prom, and more. The organization also funds the Renaissance Program at Pennsauken High School, which encourages and rewards the positive behavior of students who work to improve their grades, attendance, and discipline.

“Getting the children while they are young is the goal,” said Finnegan. “In high school, they are starting to form their ways of thinking. If we can get to them before others can get to them, then we can steer them in the right direction. But we can’t forget about the adults either.”

PASA is meeting again on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 7:00 p.m. at the PYAA Field House, 3501 Elm Ave., Pennsauken. The organization welcomes all audiences to come and express their feelings on substance abuse. For more information, e-mail


Translate »