CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice
announced today a $6 million federal grant that will help West
Virginia strengthen cutting-edge strategies that target addiction through
prevention, intervention, and diversion.
The funding comes from the Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance
Abuse Site-based Program (COSSAP) through the Justice and Community
Services section of the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security.
“I’ve said many times that we need to do everything in our power and be
willing to use every tool in our toolbelt to combat the epidemic we
continue to face against opioids,” Gov. Justice said. “This grant is a
truly fantastic help in that fight. It’s going to provide all kinds of new
pathways and access to treatment for West Virginians who may be struggling.
I could not be more excited for this grant.”
The grant will support two successful strategies: pre-arrest diversion and
- Pre-arrest diversion: Through the Office of Drug
Control Policy (ODCP) at the West Virginia Department of Health
and Human Resources (DHHR), the state has taken steps to implement
three primary models of pre-arrest diversion. This grant will allow
these three initiatives, which are already seeing results, to
collaborate closely, and enhance their successes:
- Quick Response Teams (QRTs), which work directly with
individuals who have experienced an overdose to provide recovery
support, social service referrals, and links to treatment options.
QRTs are multi-disciplinary teams comprised of a first responder, a
Peer Recovery Support Specialist, a law enforcement officer, and a
member of the faith-based community. Supported by the DHHR, QRTs are
currently operating in 22 counties.
- Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), which pursues
community-based supportive services as an alternative to the criminal
justice system in appropriate cases involving such low-level offenses
as drug possession. Part of a growing national initiative, LEAD is
supported by ODCP.
- The West Virginia Angel Initiative,
which allows the West Virginia State Police to refer people to
treatment when they present to a State Police post seeking assistance
for their substance use disorder (SUD), without fear of prosecution
for possession of illegal substances or paraphernalia.
This integrated approach will be known as
the West Virginia QLA Early Intervention Program.
“West Virginia has implemented a variety of initiatives to address the SUD
epidemic and the fear associated with asking for help, including adopting
and promoting several programs of Pre-Arrest Diversion,” said ODCP
Assistant Director Rachel Thaxton. “This opportunity will allow for the
alignment of critical services to serve as a framework of best practices to
expand across the state.”
- School-based prevention: The grant will expand
the highly valued Prevention Resource Officer (PRO) program to nearly
all counties. PROs are certified law enforcement officers who receive
special training to serve in their local elementary, middle, and high
schools. PROs build trust with students to mentor them, prevent and
respond to dangerous school situations, and serve as liaisons between
students and staff.
“When PROs are integrated into a school
system, the benefits exceed reducing violence in schools,” said Justice
Programs Manager Tanisha Travis, the PRO coordinator. “PROs work to make
the lives of students not only safer but better. PROs enforce safety in our
schools, but their abilities to support a student’s well-being and growth
extends far beyond the badge they wear.”
More than 100 trained PROs currently serve in 35 counties. The grant will
add them to 18 more: Boone, Gilmer, Grant, Marion, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo,
Pendleton, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Preston, Randolph, Summers, Tucker,
Tyler, Wayne, Webster, and Wirt counties. PRO officers funded through this
grant will focus on substance abuse education and prevention services.
“Having additional officers in our schools means more positive role models
for our students,” Travis said. “It is time that every school in West
Virginia benefits from having a certified and specifically trained
law-enforcement officer on-site.”
Justice and Community Services is part of DHS’ Division of Administrative
Services. The COSSAP grant was awarded by U.S. Department of Justice’s
Office of Justice Programs through its Bureau of Justice Assistance. The
grants support larger-scale state efforts to implement, enhance, or
evaluate effective responses to the opioid and stimulant crises.
“Funds received through the COSSAP program are critical to supporting and
expanding existing prevention and treatment initiatives,” said Marty
Hatfield, the senior criminal justice specialist at JCS who successfully
applied for the grant. “JCS is both proud and excited to have the
opportunity to partner with agencies like ODCP, Marshall University,
Cordata Healthcare Innovations, and local law enforcement for this
# # #