Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice focuses on the fact that we cannot arrest our way out of a disease. To better address this crisis, this line of operation provides effective strategies to build greater community collaboration with law enforcement, criminal justice professionals, and individuals with former justice involvement as the long-term solution. SAFE Project is actively involved with pre-arrest deflection and diversion efforts nationally, supports connecting individuals to treatment for substance use disorder and/or mental health as an alternative to arrest, and has programs that support the full continuum of care by focusing on youth and adults who are navigating the complexities of criminal justice involvement and recovery.
Youth “Connections” Program
Integrated-Forensic Peer Recovery Specialist (i-FPRS) Training
Model Law to Expand First Responder Deflection
“Recovery is real and deflection and diversion are a catalyst into the recovery process. As a person with lived experience in terms of mental health, substance use, and justice-involvement, the engagement of justice and community-based practitioners who serve with compassion, care, and empathy has been instrumental in my journey.” — Brandee Izquierdo, PTACC Board Member, Executive Director, SAFE Project.
SAFE Project at Work
First responders, including law enforcement, often do not have good options when encountering people with substance use and/or mental health disorders. On March 3, 2022, the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) announced the release of the Model Law Enforcement and Other First Responders Deflection Act. This Model Law is a resource for states that encourages the development and use of deflection programs across the country.
“We can’t arrest our way out of it.”
Deflection is an answer to that.
As a person with professional and lived experience in substance use, mental health, and criminal justice, the Model Law Enforcement and Other First Responder Deflection Act is a monumental step in the right direction. We cannot arrest our way out of the challenges our communities face when navigating substance use and mental health. It is going to take each and every one of us – police, treatment, and community partners – truly working together collaboratively to change the tide. By focusing on deflection as a solution-focused approach, we can reduce costs, increase safety, and save lives.”
On February 8, 2022, the Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking released its final report outlining key findings and proposals. Synthetic opioids – primarily fentanyl – were responsible for nearly two-thirds of the over 100,000 reported drug overdose deaths in the United States in the 12-month period ending in June 2021. According to the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, this is a 30% increase from the year prior. In 2020, SAFE Project Co-Founder and Co-Chair, Admiral James Winnefeld, was appointed to serve as a member of this bipartisan, congressionally mandated national commission led by Chairs Congressman David Trone (D-MD) and Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), alongside Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Congressman Fred Upton (R-MI).