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Superior Police Department Launches Drug Diversion Program Helping Addicts

Taylor Holt
Updated: October 11, 2018 08:57 PM

The Superior Police Department is launching a unique program aimed at tackling drug addiction. Pathways to Hope is the name of the program, that gives addicts a chance to get help, rather than jail time.

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The drug diversion program, funded through a grant from the Wisconsin DOJ, gives the choice to people who have committed certain offenses where the root cause is addiction to opiates or methamphetamine. The program is for Douglas County residents, and the accused crime must be a non-violent, low-level offense. Their criminal history will also be checked for any past violent crimes. How it works is a person seeking help would be provided transportation to the Lake Superior Community Health Center, or an initial assessment to determine the level of care needed the following day. Police Chief Nicholas Alexander says the goal is to reduce crime and addiction in the community.

"In the end, hopefully it saves some lives. I mean, heroin particularly is a drug that we have a lot of overdoses on that often times result in death, so it can be a life saver. I think it's in line with our goals and values of trying to be a compassionate and caring department," said Alexander.

Alexander says this, however, is not a get out of jail free card, and that they understand the drug problem isn't something they can arrest their way out of, so Pathways to Hope is aimed at getting to the root of the problem. 

Betsy Byler with the Lake Superior Community Health Center says this is a big deal to have more options for people.

"Working in this community for the last ten or so years we haven't had as many ways to help people who are suffering with addiction," said Byler. " As part of Lake Superior Community Health Center, we joined earlier this year and we're able to open our substance abuse program. We're able to offer intensive outpatient medicated assisted treatment, and we through the grant have access to some residential."

For the people who want help and successfully complete six months of treatment, no charges would be filed. If not completed, they will be accountable for the original offense. The grant will cover any treatment costs not covered by the person's own insurance, or if they are uninsured. There will also be an option for people who have not committed an offense to enter this program and get treatment. This is a collaborative effort between several agencies including the District Attorney's office, UWS and Douglas County Health and Human Services.

The grant is funded until the end of 2019. If it's successful, they will plan on continuing it in the future. The program starts on Friday.

Credits

Taylor Holt

Copyright 2018 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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