While the state’s opioid epidemic resulted in more widespread use of fentanyl and heroin, in Tucson that hasn’t necessarily translated into more arrests for those caught with the drugs. Arizona 360 joined the Tucson Police Department’s Substance Use Resource Team to see how officers implement the department’s deflection program. Instead of taking people to jail, officers and peer support specialists with CODAC Health, Recovery and Wellness can talk them into treatment.
The program began in July 2018 and is designed to help people struggling with substance misuse disorder overcome their addiction and, as a result, put an end to crimes associated with drug addiction. Since it began, officers have completed more than 1,100 deflections, according to the Southwest Institute for Research on Women based at the University of Arizona. The institute is tasked with evaluating the program’s success.
The deflection program applies to adults arrested in possession of a variety of narcotics, including heroin and meth. They cannot have an outstanding warrant for a violent crime or domestic violence.