BOSTON — Executive Director Zoe Grover and Co-Founder and Board Chair John Rosenthal of the Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative (PAARI) applaud President Biden and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy for releasing model state laws aimed at expanding first-responder deflection programs such as PAARI has led nationwide.
Since 2015, PAARI and its national membership, including 700 city, municipal, county and state law enforcement agencies and first responders in 40 states, has reshaped the national conversation about the opioid epidemic being a disease versus a crime, and about those struggling with substance use disorder needing treatment, not jail. PAARI police partner programs have diverted thousands of potential arrests and emergency room visits, changed police culture, and placed more than 30,000 people into treatment for substance use disorders over the past six years.
This week the White House ONDCP — which PAARI has worked with as a partner since 2015 — released model state laws aimed at expanding resources like PAARI that deflect those with substance use disorder and mental health conditions from arrest and into treatment programs.
To read the full announcement from the White House, click here.
“I am proud that PAARI has been a leader in the push to change our national approach to substance use disorder and mental health by normalizing compassionate, non-arrest law enforcement pathways into treatment and recovery instead of criminal penalties that at times only compound an individual’s problems,” said Chairman John Rosenthal. “This major White House announcement is an important validation of our proven life-saving deflection and non-arrest PAARI programs. I sincerely hope this will encourage every state and law enforcement agency to follow PAARI’s lead in helping people into treatment vs jail for the disease of addiction. We’re proud of President Biden for embracing our time-tested and repeatedly proven strategies and look forward to continuing to work closely with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy to save lives.”
Late last year, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that overdose deaths in the U.S. had for the first time exceeded 100,000 in a single calendar year, PAARI called on national leaders to treat the opioid epidemic like the public health emergency that it is, and to dramatically expand access to treatment and recovery resources.
The model state laws released this week are an encouraging step in that direction, though PAARI continues to call for even more action to improve hospital emergency departments’ provision of medications that effectively treat substance use disorder.
“The release of these model state laws is a big step in the right direction, but the opioid epidemic continues to claim more lives than ever, so we cannot rest with just these steps as we seek to save countless lives and families,” said Chairman Rosenthal. “I look forward to working with the White House, ONDCP, and all of our law enforcement and community partners across the Country to continue this battle to save the lives of so many people suffering with the disease of addiction.”
PAARI has also been honored by the Obama and Trump administrations and a bipartisan bevy of state elected officials and governors for its work.
The Police Assisted Addiction & Recovery Initiative (PAARI) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to help law enforcement agencies nationwide create non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery. Founded alongside the groundbreaking Gloucester, Mass., Police Department Angel Initiative in June 2015, PAARI has been a driving force behind this rapidly expanding community policing movement. We provide technical assistance, coaching, grants, and other capacity-building resources to more than 700 police departments in 40 states. We currently work with more than 130 law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts alone. PAARI and our law enforcement partners are working towards a collective vision where non-arrest diversion programs become a standard policing practice across the country, thereby reducing overdose deaths, expanding access to treatment, improving public safety, reducing crime, diverting people away from the criminal justice system, and increasing trust between law enforcement and their communities. Our programs and partners have saved tens of thousands of lives, changed police culture, reshaped the national conversation about the opioid epidemic and have placed over 30,000 people into treatment since its founding in June 2015. Learn more at paariusa.org.