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10/30/2019

Opioid Command Center, Attorney General Highlight PA Law Enforcement-Assisted Diversion Program

Harrisburg, PA - The Pennsylvania Opioid Command Center and Attorney General Josh Shapiro are today partnering to raise awareness of the attorney general’s Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (PA LEAD) program. PA LEAD is a collaborative law enforcement initiative aimed at connecting individuals suffering from substance use disorder with local treatment resources. PA LEAD first launched in Somerset County in 2018 and expanded to Carbon County in 2019.

Through the program, anyone can walk into a participating police department and ask for help seeking treatment for substance use disorder. Police in those departments are trained to help them get directly into a treatment program and on a path to recovery, without threat of arrest. In addition, when appropriate, police officers have discretion to not pursue criminal charges against low risk drug offenders and to instead refer them to treatment. Because these police departments have strong relationships with local treatment providers, they can find a treatment slot as quickly as possible.

“The opioid, heroin, and fentanyl crisis is devastating Pennsylvania communities, with 12 lives lost each day in the commonwealth to drug overdose,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “This is a public health and public safety crisis that requires all hands on deck. PA LEAD is a critical program that empowers law enforcement to help individuals suffering from substance use disorder get into treatment and stay out of the criminal justice system. I’m proud to work with our law enforcement partners to implement and expand this program, and I thank the Pennsylvania Opioid Command Center for helping to raise awareness of PA LEAD and for the important work they are doing for the people of Pennsylvania.”

“We know that you cannot get someone into treatment that is dead,” Ray Barishansky, Incident Commander of the Opioid Command Center said. “It is essential that we work to get those with substance use disorder into treatment. This program, led by the Office of the Attorney General, is the type of collaboration among agencies that is saving lives in Pennsylvania.”

If your agency would like to partner with PA LEAD and open your doors to people seeking treatment for addiction, or if you would like more information about the program, please contact the Office of Attorney General at 570-826-2483 or email PALEAD@attorneygeneral.gov. The Office also has a regional and countywide Pennsylvania Drug & Alcohol Resource Guide designed to help connect people with a substance use disorder with their local drug and alcohol commission for help. The guide is located at www.attorneygeneral.gov/resources/PALEAD. Additional resources about drug and alcohol abuse can be found at www.attorneygeneral.gov/resources.

The Opioid Command Center, established in January 2018 when Gov. Wolf signed the first opioid disaster declaration, meets every week to discuss the opioid crisis. The command center is staffed by personnel from 17 state agencies, spearheaded by the departments of Health and Drug and Alcohol Programs.

Recent data shows that in 2018, more than 4,400 people died from a drug overdose. This represents an 18 percent decrease in drug overdose deaths from 2017.

Work to address the opioid crisis focuses on three areas: prevention, rescue and treatment. Efforts over the past four years, working with state agencies, local, regional and federal officials, have resulted in significant action to address the opioid crisis.

For more information on Pennsylvania’s response to the opioid crisis visit www.pa.gov/opioids.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jacklin Rhoads, Office of the Attorney General, 717-787-5211 or press@attorneygeneral.gov

Nate Wardle, Health, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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