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Delaware County makes police a resource for those seeking addiction treatment

The Law Enforcement Treatment Initiative encourages police departments to connect people with treatment options rather than arresting them.

  • Avi Wolfman-Arent/Keystone Crossroads
Delaware County District Attorney, Jack Stollsteimer

Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

Delaware County District Attorney, Jack Stollsteimer

(Media) — A program that allows people to seek addiction treatment by contacting local police will expand to Delaware County, officials announced Tuesday.

The Law Enforcement Treatment Initiative (LETI) encourages police departments to connect people with treatment options rather than arresting them. Through the program, police link people with recovery centers in the area and help provide transportation.

Delaware County is the 8th county in the state to join LETI and the first in the Philadelphia suburbs.

“It opens up the front doors of police stations for those who are in need,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who launched LETI in Western Pennsylvania in 2018. “They can walk in. They can approach one of the police officers and say that I need help.”

The Delaware County courthouse in Media is seen on April 11, 2019.

Ed Mahon / PA Post

The Delaware County courthouse in Media, Pennsylvania, is seen on April 11, 2019. In the county in 2017, there were 206 protection-from-abuse cases that ended with a stipulation or agreement between the parties, 187 final orders granted after a hearing before a judge, and 147 final orders denied after a hearing before a judge.

Police will be trained, Shapiro said, to know local treatment centers and where there are available slots.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer says LETI will also give local authorities more latitude on when to seek drug charges. Officials will be able to more easily dismiss criminal penalties, he said, if people agree to seek treatment in exchange.

He hopes the program will help shift the relationship between police and people suffering from substance abuse.

“This really, I hope, changes peoples’ thoughts about policing in our communities — that they know they can trust police officers to make that kind of a judgment call,” said Stollsteimer.

The other seven counties in the initiative are Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Dauphin, Northumberland, Schuylkill, and Somerset.

Shapiro said that, so far, “dozens” of people have been connected to treatment options through the program.

 

 

WHYY is the leading public media station serving the Philadelphia region, including Delaware, South Jersey and Pennsylvania. This story originally appeared on WHYY.org.

 

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