On February 8, 2024, the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) hosted a virtual statewide convening among New York law enforcement agencies and those working on deflection programs in the state. The convening was designed as an introduction to PAARI and to highlight local programming.
The session commenced with Brittney Garrett, PAARI’s Senior Director of Public Safety Engagement and Strategy, providing an overview of PAARI, covering its history and impact, various deflection models, the Xylazine Pilot Project, opioid settlement funds, and the National Recovery Corps.
Brittney then handed the floor to Paul Rickard and Chief Steven D’Agata from the Village of Liberty Police Department. Village of Liberty PD collaborates with PAARI through Hope Not Handcuffs (HNH), a joint effort between law enforcement and community organizations to find effective treatment options for individuals struggling with alcohol or drug dependency.
Situated in Sullivan County, which has the highest per capita overdose death rate in New York state, Chief D’Agata emphasized the necessity to address substance use disorders to prevent further fatalities in his community. “My department’s number one goal is to stop the deaths and the dying,” said Chief D’Agata.
Village of Liberty PD’s deflection program commenced in August 2023 in partnership with HNH. Their model encompasses four pathways: officer referral, self-referral, diversion, and Quick Response Teams (QRT). Chief D’Agata underscored the significance of their partnership with HNH in facilitating community members’ access to treatment. For instance, when individuals voluntarily seek treatment referrals from law enforcement, HNH “Angels” arrive at the police station within 20-30 minutes. Angels, community members in recovery or affected by the opioid epidemic, guide those seeking treatment through the usually daunting process of bed availability and insurance options. “I realized quickly that to help people in my community get treatment, this partnership was crucial,” said Chief D’Agata regarding the Village of Liberty PD’s collaboration with HNH.
Furthermore, Chief D’Agata’s department employs business cards as an additional outreach tool to sow the seeds of awareness within the community. These cards contain important information about the department and contact details for individuals seeking treatment. Through this initiative, the department has observed a notable shift, with officer referrals transforming into self-referrals.
Following this presentation, Scott Allen, Chief Operating Officer at O2SL and QRT National, discussed his collaboration with HNH at a recent Hudson Valley-based convening of 50 local police chiefs. This collaboration aimed to share best practices gleaned from experiences nationwide.
The meeting came to a close with a brief overview of New York’s Overdose Response Strategy (ORS), which began in 2015. The program, funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), facilitates collaboration between public safety and public health officials to promote data sharing, access to treatment and recovery, and harm reduction. The New York ORS team is composed of two team members, Jim Hawley, NY/NJ HIDTA Public Safety and Prevention Partnerships Coordinator, Overdose Response Strategy Drug Intelligence Officer, and Lisa A. Worden, New York State Public Health Analyst with the CDC Foundation/Overdose Response Strategy initiative.
28 professionals from various organizations participated in the convening, including:
- Alliance for Better Communities at Pivot
- BriteLife Recovery
- CDC Foundation
- Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office
- Hope Not Handcuffs
- Ithaca Police Department
- NY/NJ HIDTA
- NYS Opioid Settlement Advisory Board
- O2SL and QRT National
- Saratoga County Department of Health
- Schenectady Hub Model
- Stratton VA Medical Center
- Village of Liberty Police Department
The next meeting is scheduled for May 9th at noon. To register, please visit the link HERE. If you have suggestions or programs to highlight in future meetings, email Brittney at email@example.com.