To help address the negative impacts of the opioid crisis, drug-related crime, and rising rates of overdose deaths, Sheriff Mike Kelley has begun implementing a new ‘out-of-the-box’ approach to address the opioid epidemic. Sheriff Kelley has partnered up with Family Guidance Centers to help with the implementation of this program. Family Guidance Centers, Inc. is a not-for-profit behavioral health care organization based in Illinois that has a mission to treat and prevent substance use disorders as well as an array of other related problems including mental health.
Many proactive police departments in Illinois, including the Will County Sheriff’s Office are implementing an arrest-diversion program. These programs are sometimes referred to as “Safe Passage” programs. This program is the final piece, in a three part approach, of combating the heroin epidemic through drug enforcement, prevention thru education, and now treatment.
To help jumpstart this program, the Will County Sheriff’s Office was awarded the Community Law Enforcement Partnership (CLEP) Grant for deflection for substance use disorder treatment through the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA). This grant will provide the Will County Sheriff’s Office critical funding to facilitate referrals for substance use treatment.
Under the leadership of Sheriff Mike Kelley, the Will County Sheriff’s Office has done a great job addressing the opioid epidemic by targeting the drug dealers and getting drugs off the streets thru various enforcement means. The Sheriff’s Office has educated the public with the “Hidden In Plain Sight” trailer and by establishing the Will County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition. Sheriff Kelley’s next step is to help those in need to obtain the treatment they most desperately need to rid themselves of addiction by partnering up with Family Guidance Centers in the Will County Sheriff’s Office Safe Passage Program.
If you, or anyone you know, are in need of drug use addiction treatment, the Will County Sheriff’s Office is here to assist you in getting the treatment that is needed. The Safe Passage Program is a citizen self-referral system. Drug-involved individuals are encouraged to initiate contact and engage with members of the Will County Sheriff’s Office without fear of prosecution, and an immediate treatment referral is made with the assistance of behavioral health experts, trained officers and volunteers. Individuals who are indigent and have no health insurance may be provided financial assistance for treatment or other services when available.
Any resident of Will County who enters the Will County Sheriff’s Office Public Safety Complex and requests help with their addiction to opioids, alcohol, or other substances, will be screened for eligibility and, if eligible, registered for participation in the Safe Passage Program. If the individual requesting help with addiction is in possession of drugs or drug equipment (e.g., needles), the individual will turn these items over to the Sheriff’s Office and not be criminally charged.
The partnership that the Will County Sheriff’s Office and Family Guidance Centers will be providing to the citizens of Will County is just another example of how proactive and serious the Sheriff’s Office is in helping to combat this opioid epidemic.