Treatment stores

New ISP program offers treatment for drug addicts rather than arrest

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) is a pre-arrest program that diverts low-level offenders to drug treatment instead of arrest.

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – The following story was reported by KREM 2 News partner Coeur d’Alene / Post Falls Press:

Even years later, Idaho State Police Captain John Kempf still remembers the people detained for drug possession who sat in the back of his patrol vehicle and called for help. ‘aid.

They needed treatment for substance abuse disorders. But Kempf’s hands were tied. He had no choice but to take these people to jail.

“I had no help for them,” he said.

New pilot program will soon give Idaho State Police in northern Idaho another choice when interacting with certain people with substance use disorders – and give another chance to people struggling with an addiction.

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) is a pre-arrest program that diverts low-level offenders to drug treatment instead of arrest.

LEAD is a collaboration between law enforcement, public health entities, city and county prosecutors, and drug treatment providers.

The program is particularly aimed at people with little or no criminal history, for whom LEAD could be an early intervention.

With deadly fentanyl-containing pills flooding northern Idaho and overdoses on the rise, Kempf said it was time to act.

“We’re in it,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for us to have an impact on our community. “

More than 100,000 people have died from drug overdoses in the United States between May 2020 and April 2021, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, are believed to have caused almost two-thirds of all drug overdose deaths during this period.

Closer to home, 33 people died from overdoses in Kootenai County last year – with 16 fentanyl-related deaths, twice as many as the year before.

“We have to do something,” Kempf said.

Municipal and county level prosecutors said they supported the new project.

“We are delighted,” said Wes Somerton, deputy chief prosecutor for the town of Coeur d’Alene. “We’re here with both feet. “

Officers who encounter a person committing a diversion-eligible offense may refer them to LEAD in lieu of arrest, creating a pathway to treatment for a substance abuse disorder.

Eligible offenses include non-violent offenses that may be associated with substance use, such as dating, trespassing or possession of props, as well as criminal possession of any controlled substance.

Drug possession is the only crime that does not disqualify someone from LEAD. People who commit new criminal offenses are disqualified from the program.

Officers can also refer “known” individuals who are likely to commit a diversion-eligible offense in the future.

Those who commit violent crimes and crimes involving firearms are not eligible for the LEAD program. Trafficking in or possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver are also ineligible offenses.

Those participating in LEAD must be adults who have not been convicted of a felony in the past 10 years. They must not be on probation or on parole. They should not need medical detox or psychiatric hospitalization.

Sex offenders and those subject to a no-contact order or civil protection order are not eligible.

References are voluntary. If someone declines a recommendation or does not complete the admissions process, charges are laid as normal.

Once the referral is made, LEAD staff assess people to determine appropriate treatment and services.

Healthcare providers who partner with LEAD accept Medicaid, as well as insurance. For those who have neither, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has secured funds to cover the treatment.

After one year, people who successfully complete treatment will not see any charges filed.

Success is not always a linear path. To this end, individuals who relapse but otherwise comply with the program will not automatically be disqualified.

“Relapse is part of recovery,” said Brandi Clark, IDHW addiction recovery coach. “Fentanyl is a hell of a drug. “

She added that LEAD aims to provide trauma-informed care.

The Region 1 Behavioral Health Division will work with District 1 Idaho State Police and Panhandle Health District to conduct a six to 12 month pilot of the LEAD program.

If successful, the program could expand to other ISP districts.

The Coeur d’Alene Press is an information partner of KREM 2. To find out more about our news partner, Click here.