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Orange County News For Immediate Release Contact: Christopher Borek Wednesday, January 27, 2021 845.291.3276, 845.238.4245c
District Attorney Hoovler, Local Police Chiefs, and Other Agencies
Announce Pre-Arrest Diversion Program
Referring Drug Defendants to Treatment,
Instead of Filing Charges Against Them
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler, joined by five local police chiefs and representatives of other agencies, on Monday, January 25, 2021, announced the launch of the Orange County Pre-Arrest Diversion Program. That announcement came at a press conference held at the Orange County Government Center in Goshen. Joining District Attorney Hoovler were Darcie Miller, Commissioner of the Orange County Departments of Mental Health and Social Services; Annette Kahrs, President of the Tri-County Community Partnership in Pine Bush and Executive Director of Hope Not Handcuffs-Hudson Valley (HNH); Paul Rickard, Chief of the Mount Hope Police Department and President of the Police Chiefs’ Association of Orange County; John Ewanciw, Chief of the Middletown Police Department; William Worden, Chief of the Port Jervis Police Department; Dominick Blasko, Chief of the Crawford Police Department; and Francis Pierri, Chief of the Highlands Police Department.
The Pre-Arrest Diversion Program is designed to refer to drug treatment, if appropriate, those accused of some drug crimes, rather than filing charges against them in court. After investigating a case, if an officer believes that a subject would benefit from drug treatment, and the individual is interested in treatment, the officer, instead of charging the subject with a crime, can refer the subject for assistance from HNH. HNH employs volunteers to assist those in need of drug treatment to find appropriate services. If, for whatever reason, HNH cannot assist the person, the officer can refer the person to Orange County’s Crisis Help Line at 311, and the Help Line might be able to assist the person. If the individual is successful in treatment, no charges will be filed. If the individual is unsuccessful, the District Attorney’s Office and other stakeholders will discuss whether to file charges at that point.
At the press conference, Ms. Kahrs described the workings of the HNH program. In addition, Commissioner Miller described the operation of the 311 Help Line.
“The drug epidemic has claimed thousands of lives,” said District Attorney Hoovler, “and ruined many more. Rather than prosecute drug users for crimes, we would prefer, when appropriate, to connect users with treatment, so that they can turn around and, often, save their lives. The Orange County Pre-Arrest Diversion Program will, hopefully, be a vehicle to steer many users away from drugs, and away from the criminal justice system, so that they can live healthy and productive lives, without the stigma of criminal convictions hanging over their heads.”
“The Police Chiefs’ Association is excited to be partnering with the District Attorney’s Office and Hope Not Handcuffs,” said Paul Rickard, Chief of the Mount Hope Police Department and President of the Police Chiefs’ Association of Orange County. “We believe that pre-arrest diversion will spur more people to get the treatment and assistance they need, and that will change the direction of their lives, while reducing addiction and needless overdose deaths.”
“I commend District Attorney Hoovler and the Police Chiefs’ Association of Orange County for their ongoing efforts to combat the opioid epidemic,” said Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus. “This creative new program will create pathways to treatment that benefit people suffering from substance abuse disorder.”
For more information about the Orange County Pre-Arrest Diversion Program, please contact Executive Assistant District Attorney Leah Canton at (845) 291-2050, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.