Mayor Tom Tait announced a new program at Tuesday’s State of the City address to divert drug users into recovery. Called “Drug Free Anaheim,” it would encourage dug addicts to go to the police and request treatment.
In December an Anaheim businessman, Orin Abrams, met with some police officials and me to discuss a unique drug addiction initiative going on in Gloucester, Mass.
We were impressed with what Orin shared with us. So I asked Police Chief Raul Quezada to look into this program.
With that, the chief and I signed off on an innovative program aimed at getting drug addicts the help they need. We call it Drug Free Anaheim.
From now on, drug addicts will be encouraged to come in and ask for help. Our officers will be trained and prepared to receive anyone who walks in and will get them the help they need. We will seek alternatives to prosecution and incarceration first.
When they come to the station, they will not be treated as criminals for simply having an addiction. For those not wanted for other crimes, and come to the station with a legitimate desire to get sober, we will divert them for treatment rather than putting them back into the criminal justice system.
They’ll be taken or directed to one of a dozen treatment centers or a hospital where they’ll get real help. This doesn’t mean that we are giving any sort of amnesty for past crimes — were simply saying if you come into our station to legitimately seek recovery from an addiction, our police officers want to help you.
Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray told the OC Register:
Anaheim City Councilwoman Kris Murray said Drug Free Anaheim could lead to a decrease in petty theft, vehicle break-ins and other crimes that some addicts commit as a way to pay for drugs.
“It’s far less costly to the community and taxpayers if we can help people recover from their addictions than to deal with the petty crimes that support their addiction,” Murray said.
Quezada told the OC Register that if addicts who are also wanted criminals show up asking for help will be arrested, as will those are come in while high on drugs.
I hope it works. Drug addiction is a diseases of the spirit and the body, and contrary to the protestations of legalization advocates, it is not “victimless.” The devil is always in the details with these initiatives: will it be confined to Anaheim residents or open to any drug addict from anywhere who wanders into an APD station or approaches an Anaheim police officer? Will it prove a drain on police resources, or prove another ballyhooed program that fails to live up to expectations? Time will tell, but methinks Drug Free Anaheim will likely be a net positive as long as the city restricts itself to connecting addicts willing to recover with organizations that can help them gain sobriety. Will Drug Free Anaheim