WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Pennsylvania’s Acting Attorney General stopped by Wilkes-Barre earlier Monday to announce Luzerne County’s involvement in the Law Enforcement Treatment Initiative or ‘LETI’ program.

In Pennsylvania, the opioid epidemic claims 14 lives every day, That startling fact was provided by the Commonwealth’s Acting Attorney General, Michelle Henry.

“Sometimes people who are suffering from addiction, as everybody understands, don’t know where to turn and they don’t know who they can trust. And Today, Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office and the Police Force says, ‘Turn to us,'” said Henry.

The Law Enforcement Treatment Initiative or LETI program gives those battling substance abuse a new way to seek treatment through local law enforcement.

“A lot of people are afraid to go to law enforcement and ask for help. In this case, they’re going to be encouraged to go to law enforcement, ask for help, and then get reached out to by our office who can then navigate the drug and alcohol world for them,” explained Ryan Hogan, Drug and Alcohol Administrator for Luzerne and Wyoming Counties.

The program offers professional help without the threat of arrest.

“What LETI is able to do is give them access, to open a door to be a hand to help them get into the treatment that they so desperately need,” Henry added.

Luzerne county is the latest county to join the LETI program.

LETI first launched in 2018 in Somerset County. Now, in 2023, Luzerne County is the 20 county to join the program.

“Knowing what kind of issues that we have in Luzerne County with all kinds of controlled substance use and addiction, I thought it was the perfect program to assist the members of the public,” stated Sam Sanguedolce, Luzerne Couty District Attorney.

Local officials encourage those seeking treatment to trust them and the initiative.

“We know we have a growing drug and alcohol problem in our county, but we had to find unique, creative approaches to dealing with it other than just locking people up in our county prison,” Hogan added.

Luzerne county officials look forward to guiding individuals toward treatment rather than punishment.

“If done right and if done well, LETI has the potential to do a lot of good for Luzerne County,” Hogan continued.

The LETI program officially begins Monday in Luzerne County.

You can contact any law official to ask for a referral or to be connected to a treatment.