Police in Lee and Whiteside County to Join Safe Passage Initiative

For Immediate Release

Friday, Jan. 8, 2016

Contact: John Guilfoil
Phone: 781-791-7627

Police Departments in Lee and Whiteside County to Formally Join Safe Passage Initiative

Partnership Between Counties to Begin In March 

DIXON, Ill. — Chief Danny Langloss is pleased to report that after a Law Enforcement Opioid Summit, police from Whiteside County will be joining the Safe Passage Initiative to help those suffering from the disease of addiction recover.

Police in Lee and Whiteside Counties met to discuss how to help those suffering with addiction during a Law Enforcement Opioid Summit. (Courtesy Photo)

The new partnership is tentatively set to launch March 1. The Rock Falls Police Department, Sterling Police Department, Morrison Police Department and the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Department have pledged to join the Safe Passage Initiative. They will work to formulate proactive community strategies to tackle the heroin epidemic in their jurisdictions.

Police met for the first time to discuss Safe Passage during a Law Enforcement Summit on Jan. 6. at the Sterling Police Department. The chiefs and sheriffs from each department were involved and centered their conversation on strategies to assist those suffering from addiction. They also discussed how to tackle the “demand” side rather than “supply” side of the drug problem.

Dixon Police and the Lee County Sheriff’s Department initially launched The Safe Passage Initiative: Police Giving Hope to Addicts Through the Tools For Recovery on Sept. 1. The addiction recovery initiative is aimed at encouraging addicts to seek the help of police officers and sheriff’s deputies, who will in turn get them into treatment.

Through the partnership, all the agencies will allow those suffering from opioid addiction to come into their departments, turn in their drugs, and not fear criminal prosecution. Police will then work to place participants into treatment.

“Our program is for people who come to us and ask for help. It is not a get out of jail free card,” Chief Langloss said. “If someone is arrested on the street, they are charged. They don’t get the option of treatment or jail. However, if they want, we will help them when they post bond or if they make arrangements through their attorney. This program is about helping those who really want the help.”

“We need to be available to help those suffering from opioid addiction, no matter the circumstance,” added Lee County Sheriff John Simonton. “With police departments in Lee and Whiteside Counties working together for a common cause, we’re hopeful this will lead to more departments in the area and state joining our initiative.”

To date, through Safe Passage, 31 people have been placed directly into treatment. Nearly all have received help in under two hours.

Over the next month, Whiteside County law enforcement leaders will be meeting with key stakeholders in the faith based community, two local hospitals and their health departments, and other grass root support groups to recruit volunteers to be Safe Passage guides. These individuals would provide support for those in need of help with transportation and to provide follow-up support to program participants.

“We have seen how Safe Passage can make a positive difference in the lives of so many residents and we know this partnership will be extremely beneficial to both counties,” Rock Falls Chief Tammy Nelson said. “We will continue to strongly enforce the drug laws in our community, but are looking forward to helping our residents take back their lives and recover from their addiction.”

Chief Langloss and Sheriff  Simonton earlier this year collaborated with Safe Harbor of Lee County, as well as PRISM of Lee County, Lee County Health Department, Sinnissippi Centers, and KSB Hospital, State’s Attorney Anna Sacco-Miller, and A Man in Recovery Foundation of Naperville, Ill. to launch Safe Passage last year. It is modeled after the Gloucester, Mass. ANGEL Initiative, aimed at encouraging addicts to seek the help of police officers and sheriff’s deputies, who will in turn get them into treatment.

The program was created in partnership with the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (P.A.A.R.I.), which provided its roster of treatment center partners across the country and a $2,500 grant to help offset transportation costs incurred by the Safe Passage Initiative.