Attorney General Shapiro Announces Treatment Outreach Initiative

May 8, 2018 | Topic: LETI

Office of Attorney General Will Partner with Local Law Enforcement to Connect Individuals Suffering from Addiction with Treatment

SOMERSET— Partnering with local law enforcement including Somerset County District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser and Somerset Chief of Police Randy Cox, Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced a new law enforcement initiative to connect individuals suffering from addiction with local treatment resources.

The goal of the initiative is to partner with local law enforcement to get more individuals struggling with addiction and seeking help into treatment, without the threat of arrest. In the areas adopting the program, anyone seeking treatment can go to their local police station, where officers will connect them with a local treatment partner to help them on the path to recovery. The program will eventually expand to other counties.

“Law enforcement officers come into contact with people suffering from addiction every day. If an individual is seeking help, we have a moral obligation to help them access it,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “Addiction is a disease – not a crime. By connecting people to treatment, we will save lives, reduce the demand for illegal drugs, and make our communities safer.”

On average, 15 Pennsylvanians die every day of an overdose. Attorney General Shapiro believes using treatment as a weapon to fight opioid addiction is vital. Part of that solution is increasing the availability of treatment.

Partnering law enforcement agencies will:

  • Open their station doors to those suffering from addiction.
  • Help identify treatment for those who seek it.
  • Assist with ensuring that people have transportation to the facilities.
  • Maintain relationships with local treatment providers to understand availability.
  • Collect data to study outcomes.

The Office of Attorney General has dedicated a full-time agent to coordinate efforts across Pennsylvania, including training to law enforcement partners, providing sample policies and documents, promoting in the community during program rollout, convening key community stakeholders, and additional support over time.

Attorney General Shapiro thanked Somerset County District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser and Somerset Chief of Police Randy Cox for stepping up to rollout the initiative. He also thanked the Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative (PAARI) for its support, and Twin Lakes Center and Somerset Hospital for opening their doors as treatment partners.

“We’re excited to expand this program and bring much-needed help to the rest of Pennsylvania,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “It’s time to reduce the stigma of addiction and get people suffering from this disease the help they need.”

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