New legislation encourages Illinois cops to intervene, rather than arrest, opioid addicts

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Governor Bruce Rauner has signed a bipartisan plan which encourages local police departments to direct opioid addicts into treatment rather than arresting them.

The “Community-Law Enforcement Partnership for Deflection and Substance Use Disorder Treatment Act”, Senate Bill 3023, was signed on Thursday.

The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) and State Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon).

“Our police officers want to help us solve the problem, not just punish people,” Rauner said. “This effort builds community and allows our law enforcement and peace officers a way to give people help instead of a criminal record.”

Traditionally, police officers had two choices when dealing with someone suffering from substance abuse, arrest or not arrest.  This approach led to very high rates of recidivism amongst drug offenders.  Now, officers have the ability to connect people suffering from substance use disorder to treatment.  Following the first full year of Safe Passage, Dixon Police saw a 39% decrease in drug arrests.

The idea to create this legislation came shortly after City Manager Danny Langloss presented at a national opioid summit in Chicago in December of 2016.

Langloss said, “This is a great day for law enforcement and those suffering from substance use disorder.  The national opioid epidemic continues to impact every community.  More than 72,000 Americans lost their lives last year to drug overdose.  Behind every death there is a family.  The police now have 5 new programs at their disposal that save lives and make communities safer.”  

The bill goes into effect on January 1st, 2019.

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