Two key national groups will seek “a sea change in policing and justice practices” by experimenting with better ways to avoid arrests and help people get access to treatment.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC) have joined to promote alternative-to-arrest diversion programs for state, county, and local law enforcement agencies across the nation. The collaboration seeks to improve the means, ease, and speed with which law enforcement can partner with substance use and mental health treatment providers so that police can help people access treatment as rapidly as possible. “At this critical time for our communities, law enforcement efforts to connect people with drug treatment could not have greater urgency,” said IACP President and Doral, Fl., Police Chief Donald De Lucca. IACP and TASC will work through the Police, Treatment, and Community (PTAC) Collaborative, which the groups call the first national effort to build a multi-disciplinary approach that ensures law enforcement, treatment professionals, and community members collaborate as equal partners.
The initiative will cite diversion programs with the most promising and measurable outcomes, conduct pilot programs, and leverage the resources of the IACP Center for Police Research and Policy at the University of Cincinnati to measure and evaluate the results. The groups say the initiative seeks “a sea change in policing (and justice) practices.” Pam Rodriguez of TASC says, “We know from four decades of research and experience that formal connections to treatment can improve access and outcomes. Across the U.S., prisoner reentry programs, court intervention programs, and prosecutorial diversion programs have proven successful for decades. Their lessons can be applied even earlier in the justice system—ideally before people even enter it.”