POTTSVILLE, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has expanded a collaborative law enforcement program in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania which helps those suffering from addiction in seeking treatment without fear of getting in trouble. He did this with help from Schuylkill County District Attorney Michael O’Pake and Schuylkill County Judge James Goodman.
The program is called PA LEAD. LEAD is an acronym that stands for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion. People who want to seek treatment for their addiction can come to their local police department and be connected with local treatment partners without fear of being arrested. The program began in 2018 in Somerset County and in March 2019 it expanded to Carbon County.
The Attorney General says the law enforcement agencies partnered under PA LEAD hope to accomplish the following goals:
- Open their station doors to those suffering from addiction
- Help identify treatment for those who seek it
- Assist with ensuring that people have transportation to the facilities
- Maintain relationships with local treatment providers to understand availability
- Collect data to study outcomes
Shapiro addressed the public Tuesday at the Schuylkill County Courthouse.
“For too long we have been doing a disservice to people suffering with substance abuse by not treating their addiction.”
“As I’ve said over and over again, addiction is a disease, not a crime. We must do more to help people who need – and want – serious treatment, and we must do more to reduce the financial burden of incarceration for taxpayers.”
“District Attorney O’Pake created this important county-wide policy working with my office. It is important and notable that the launch of this program has the support of Judge Goodman, police chiefs, law enforcement, and drug and alcohol officials in Schuylkill County. By connecting Schuylkill Countians to treatment, we will save lives, reduce the demand for illegal drugs, and make our communities safer.”
In his statements, Shapiro mentions Schuylkill County District Attorney O’Pake. O’Pake helped form Schuylkill County REACH (Recovery Education Advocacy Community Health), which has a goal to bring overdoses and overdose deaths in the county to zero.
Any Pennsylvania District Attorney who wants to start a PA LEAD program can contact the Office of Attorney General @ PALEAD@attorneygeneral.gov