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Monroe joins state AG drug treatment initiative

Monroe County on Thursday became the 23rd county to join the Law Enforcement Treatment Initiative. The collaborative program launched by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General and law enforcement diverts people in need to treatment services.

Executive Deputy Attorney General Michelle Walsh for the PA Office of the Attorney General said, “I am excited to be here in Monroe County to launch this important program LETI, the Law Enforcement Treatment Initiative because we can’t combat this epidemic without a coalition of partners like the ones standing here today.”

PA LETI is a enforcement led treatment that will allow people living in Monroe County seeking treatment for substance abuse disorder to avoid arrest by using local law enforcement, county officials, as well as community stakeholders, to contact the Carbon, Monroe, and Pike Drug and Alcohol Commission.

“From my experience as a prosecutor for over 25 years, I have clearly learned that you cannot arrest your way out of this problem. As a young or less experienced prosecutor, I would see the same individuals commit offenses one day, come into court, be sentenced, go into the community under probation supervision or after serving a sentence. And then a few weeks later, the same people were back in front of the same judge as it was a revolving door and there was no sense of treatment, no sense of help for these individuals,” Walsh said.

The Office of Attorney General continues to battle this problem on all fronts, to target the dealers and the distributors who are poisoning our communities and peddling these narcotics. More fentanyl was seized by their office than in the prior four years combined.

The latest drug causing problems is xylazine. It’s a drug used in veterinary practices that causes horrific skin infections. And it’s something that cannot be combated by Narcan if a person overdoses.

The Office of Attorney General has gone after the large manufacturers of opioids like Purdue pharma, and has led a national coalition that has secured $26 billion dollars from the job drug distributors.

Over $1 billion has come to Pennsylvania to help fight that crisis to get communities to help that needs, including $12 million right here in Monroe County.

Partnering with Monroe County law enforcement agencies and others under PA LETI will:

• Open their doors to those suffering from substance use disorder;

• Help identify individuals seeking treatment services;

• Assist with ensuring that people have transportation to treatment services, and;

• Maintain relationships with our local drug and alcohol administration to understand availability, and collect data to study outcomes.

In Monroe County, people can walk into a police station or the local drug and alcohol authority and ask to be connected to substance abuse treatment without the threat of arrest or prosecution. This policy also gives police discretion to refer people to treatment rather than arrest and charge them criminally for low level drug offenses. This program allows law enforcement to offer treatment to people suffering from addiction.

“The start of the LETI Program on May 4 is historic for our county. This will represent a major step forward in addressing the root cause of much of the low-level crime overburdening our law enforcement and courts,” Monroe County First Assistant District Attorney Mike Mancuso said.

He said nonviolent offenders will be encouraged to obtain treatment instead of taking chances in the court system.

LETI operates in Carbon and Schuylkill counties.

Chief William Parrish, East Stroudsburg University Police chief talks about a situation with a criminal that put him in a life-or-death situation. AMY LEAP/TIMES NEWS