BOSTON, MA January 10, 2023 – The Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) applauds Governor Mike DeWine in signing to decriminalize the use of fentanyl test strips in the state, as a part of enacting a sweeping criminal justice bill. The decriminalization of these test strips will help prevent fatal overdoses and save lives in the midwestern state that has the fourth highest drug overdose mortality rate in the country.
“We are encouraged by the actions of the Ohio state legislature to decriminalize fentanyl test strips. We know that harm reduction strategies like the use of fentanyl test strips save lives,” says Commander Dennis Lowe, South Central Ohio Major Crimes Unit. “ The Project FORT team and its community partners are excited to add another tool in their important work helping those with substance use disorders find hope and a path to recovery.”
In March of 2021, PAARI created their One2One Fentanyl Test Strip project. In collaboration with 21 Massachusetts and Maine police departments, PAARI taught agencies how to utilize fentanyl test strips as a new tool to engage those with opioid use disorder and help prevent overdose deaths. Through this project, police departments and their community partner agencies distributed fentanyl test strips as an engagement tool for individuals at risk of opioid overdose.
“Decriminalizing fentanyl test strips is a huge step in the right direction. We need more institutions to make these state-wide changes to keep our communities safe,” said Vanessa Kennedy, Program Manager for the 2020-2021 PAARI Fentanyl Test Strip projects. “This inexpensive technology can be the catalyst for recovery-oriented conversations, contact, connections and engagement between community organizations, law enforcement and people who use drugs.”
During PAARI’s One2One Fentanyl Test Strip project, law enforcement and community partners distributed 2,556 fentanyl test strip kits and made 3,703 referrals to various treatment support services.
Written by: Isabella Nowak
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, strategic guidance, connection to training resources, and other capacity-building resources to more than 650 police departments in 40 states.
PAARI works 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 more than 30,000 people into treatment since its founding in June 2015. Learn more at paariusa.org.