OAG’s Program with Local Law Enforcement Connects Individuals to Treatment
HARRISBURG— Attorney General Michelle Henry today announced that Erie County has joined the Law Enforcement Treatment Initiative (LETI), a collaborative program launched by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General and law enforcement to divert individuals in need to treatment services.
Erie County becomes the 22nd county to join LETI as Attorney General Henry continues efforts to expand the program.
PA LETI is a law enforcement-led treatment initiative that will allow Pennsylvanians in Erie County seeking treatment for substance use disorder to avoid arrest by using local law enforcement, county officials, and community stakeholders, to contact the Erie County Office of Drug and Alcohol.
“I applaud Erie County’s attention to this crisis and the need to divert individuals from criminal charges and prison when treatment services are in the best interests of the person and community,” Attorney General Michelle Henry said. “By connecting individuals to the treatment they need, LETI saves lives, makes our communities stronger, and helps to minimize the stigma associated with substance use disorder. I commend the work that District Attorney Hirz and our law enforcement partners across Erie County are doing to help build stronger, healthier communities.”
AG Henry said partnering with Erie County law enforcement agencies and others under PA LETI will:
- Open their doors to those suffering from substance use disorder.
- Help identify individuals seeking treatment services.
- Assist with ensuring that people have transportation to treatment services.
- Maintain relationships with our local drug and alcohol administration to understand availability, and collect data to study outcomes.
In Erie County, individuals can walk into a police station or the local drug and alcohol authority and ask to be connected to substance abuse treatment without the threat of arrest or prosecution. This policy also gives police discretion to refer individuals to treatment rather than arrest and charge them criminally for low level drug offenses. This program allows law enforcement to offer treatment to people suffering from addiction and will help stop the revolving door that exists for individuals who do not receive treatment.
“I am proud to partner with the PA Office of Attorney General and thank AG Henry for helping Erie County expand our existing treatment initiatives through the implementation of the LETI program,” said Erie County District Attorney Elizabeth Hirz. “This program will redirect people suffering from substance use disorder away from the criminal justice system and allow them to gain direct access to treatment services and begin their road to recovery. Under this program, anyone can make a LETI referral in their community, if they or a family member are struggling. Additionally, the LETI initiative serves to build and maintain relationships between law enforcement agencies and local treatment providers to better serve our community.”
The LETI program will continue the work that Erie County has been doing to address the substance use in their community.
“The Erie County Office of Drug and Alcohol Abuse is grateful for the opportunity to further collaborate with the District Attorney’s Office, local Law Enforcement Agencies, and the Attorney General’s Office in bringing the Law Enforcement Treatment Initiative (LETI) program to Erie,” said Scott Coughenour, Executive Director, Erie County Office of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. “The LETI program offers another tool to help local stakeholders further collaborate to combat substance use disorders in our community by offering additional diversionary strategies that can help individuals identify another path to obtaining supportive services. LETI highlights the fact that our partners in Law Enforcement as well as our community are committed to assisting and supporting individuals in Erie who may need help navigating the journey to treatment and recovery,”
Since beginning in 2020, LETI has received nearly 700 referrals from concerned individuals throughout the Commonwealth.
Agent Janene Holter, PhD, is the Office of Attorney General’s dedicated full-time agent who coordinates PA LETI. Her work includes training, writing policies for each participating county, convening key community stakeholders, and case management of LETI referrals.
LETI currently operates in Berks, Bradford, Cameron, Carbon, Chester, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Dauphin, Delaware, Elk, Fayette, Jefferson, Luzerne, Mifflin, Montgomery, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Snyder, Somerset, and Wyoming counties. District Attorneys in Pennsylvania interested in starting a PA LETI program should contact the Office of Attorney General at 570-826-2483.
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