PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia police are using a new tactic for certain low-level offenders: Police-Assisted Diversion is an approach to getting defendants with addiction problems off of drugs instead of into jail.
City officials say the program, nicknamed PAD, is a two-fer, both fighting the opioid epidemic and reducing the jail population. It gives officers the option of referring non-violent offenders to treatment services instead of arresting and charging them. They can also refer someone who simply appears to need help.READ MORE: Stray Bullet Kills Man Eating Thanksgiving Dinner Inside Norristown Home, Police Say
Police Commissioner Richard Ross called it a valuable tool.READ MORE: Philadelphia Sets New Record With 501st Homicide In Single Year After Man Killed In East Mount Airy
“We’re excited about the manner in which we’re doing this,” Ross said, “and we think this will serve as a model for other big cities.”
Police began piloting the program in one North Philadelphia district a few months ago and have diverted 26 people. PAD officers are expanding into a neighboring district and Mayor Jim Kenney’s budget would add two more this summer.MORE NEWS: Man Charged After Juvenile Shot In Alleged Road Rage Incident In Lehigh County, Police Say
“If we can get them on the right track and get them the help that they need and the support that they need to be productive citizens, we can reduce our misery factor and allow people to meet their potential,” Kenney said.