Sheriff Jim Quattrone and a coalition of organizations and entities in Chautauqua County are coming together to fight drug abuse disorders in the county.
Thanks to Chautauqua CARES, the sheriff and his colleagues plan to use new approaches to tackle the drug addiction response, including education, prevention and treatment, as well as law enforcement.
“We have recognized that this war on drugs has been going on for more than 50 years because we are not winning it” Quattrone said. “We need to be smarter in our handling of the drug crisis. What we’re working on is a county-wide, multi-sector law enforcement network that works with Behavioral Health and other community organizations to collaborate so that we can increase accessibility, speed and efficiency. help for people with substance use disorders and their families. We work with as many county agencies as possible from different sectors to focus not only on law enforcement, but also education, prevention, treatment and law enforcement.
Some of Chautauqua CARES partner agencies include Chautauqua County Mental Hygiene Department, Chautauqua County Health and Human Services Department, Prevention Works, UPMC Chautauqua, Chautauqua Mental Health Association, many local health organizations. law enforcement in the region and many other organizations. in the zone.
“As we research a comprehensive response to opioids and other drug crises in the county, we will also see more diversion programs for non-violent drug offenders, both before and after arrest, where we can not only get them treatment and out of jail, but give it to them in a timely manner. What we will do is if a law enforcement officer comes into contact, whether on the initiative of an individual or on the initiative of law enforcement, if a non-violent drug addict offender is ready for help or if we recognize that he could use that help, we will put them in touch with a peer immediately – no matter what time of day or night – so we can help them when they are ready to be.
Quattrone has said in the past that those with substance abuse disorders may have realized they are ready for help, but these services are not immediately available.
“They may end up going back to drugs”, he said. “We are looking for that timely diversion. Part of the Chautauqua CARES program is to have a more effective reintegration program upon release from prison, and then we are working hard to speed up the treatment program within the prison. My belief is that we can’t just focus on enforcement – I think we need to have education, prevention, treatment, and enforcement.
Quattrone said he was also excited about the possibility of using Prevention Works’ mobile unit to attend events such as fairs or educational visits to schools to educate students and the community about the dangers of drug use as part of the education part of the network. . He said some areas of the country were using methods similar to the ones Chautauqua CARES sought to use and which proved to be quite effective, such as these educational approaches.
“The reports have shown it again – people are going to be fed up with me saying this – but this is the collaboration we need, not just between law enforcement.” he said. “We need to be able to work with our community providers if we are to move the drug crisis forward. “
Quattrone said the drug problems in Chautauqua County are urgent. In 2017, he said fentanyl was involved in 54% of all overdose deaths, however, in 2020, fentanyl was involved in 88% of all overdose deaths.
“During the same period, the frequency of the heroin present in these toxicology reports actually decreased”, he said. “What it shows is that fentanyl is put in more drugs. We see that stimulant consumption is linked to overdoses, but with that there is also fentanyl.
Quattrone added that it has also been found that marijuana is sometimes associated with fentanyl.
Currently, Chautauqua CARES is awaiting a response on a grant from the Office of Justice called the Comprehensive Program Grant Based on Opioids, Stimulants and Addictions. Quattrone said the funding the county just received during Attorney General Letitia James’ recent visit would also be helpful for the coalition.
“It can be a program that saves lives”, he said. “Just when you think of the costs involved – and when I say the costs, it’s not just fiscal, but the emotional costs and the mental costs to families and individuals, and also how much we can prevent – it’s our goal, prevent it. This is where we want to endorse our diversion program and do a better job of turning people away. If we can keep them from going to jail, and keep them from going to the emergency room, they can get treatment in the right places – that’s where we’re going to benefit. ”