By Tom Tolen /

Local law enforcement officials as well as motivational speakers will be present for an online panel on addiction recovery and the law during the current coronavirus pandemic.

The event, to take place at 1 p.m. on Jan. 28th, is being organized by Francine Zysk, founder of Project Opiate and a former Livingston County District Court Administrator. Zysk is also a former chief probation officer in Livingston County and Outreach Coordinator at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brighton. Zysk returned to Michigan last June from China, where she spent a year teaching English in Chinese schools. Zysk has been an ardent voice and leader in the effort to promote greater public awareness of the opioid crisis in Livingston County and Southeast Michigan.

The speakers at the online forum will include former Tampa Bay Buccaneers football player Randy Grimes; former Detroit Lion Eric Hipple, Howell City Police Dept. Deputy Chief Michael Dunn and Livingston County Undersheriff Jeff Warder.

Grimes successfully overcame his addiction — caused by prescription pain pills he took as a result of football injuries — and is now a nationally recognized motivational speaker. He is also a founder of Athletes in Recovery, a program designed to help athletes at all levels suffering addiction find treatment and to lend support to those already in recovery.

Hipple spent his entire 10-year NFL career with the Lions, and after the suicide of his teenage son, dedicated himself to teaching students about the dangers of depression. Hipple is currently the outreach coordinator at the University of Michigan Depression Center. Dunn has been instrumental in educating and assisting with opiate awareness programs in Livingston County and the county sheriff’s office, and Warder has spoken before school and community groups at Project Opiate programs.

Zysk tells WHMI the forum is needed because, as she puts it, “We need to bridge the gap between law enforcement and those in recovery.” By recovery, Zysk means people who are in the process of overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction.

The forum will be an hour and 15 minutes long.

“I expect it to be a healthy discussion because it could result in innovative ideas,” Zysk said. “Maybe law enforcement can go outside the box when it comes to problems experienced by those in recovery and a lack of communication between those individuals and police agencies.

Zysk says she is “encouraging as many people in the law enforcement community as can attend.” Attendance will be limited to 100 people, not including the panel. Zysk calls it “kind of a town hall,” and virtual attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the panel discussion. An event flyer is attached.

Advance signups are not allowed, but those wishing to attend the online panel discussion may go on the day of the event to:
Meeting ID: 717 4519 6075
Password: Recovery12