Contemporary Police Responses to Addiction: Lessons from NIJ’s LEADS Program

Contemporary Police Responses to Addiction: Lessons from NIJ's LEADS Program
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Resources
Recorded on: 2019-04-24
Unit 1 Slide Deck: Contemporary Police Responses to Addiction
Unit 2 Workbook: Contemporary Police Responses to Addiction
Unit 3 Recording: Contemporary Police Responses to Addiction

Opioid use and abuse had been declared an epidemic. It does not distinguish between race, gender, age or economic conditions – everyone is at risk, and too many lives taken from this disease. Justice Clearinghouse in partnership with the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), enlisted the help of two NIJ Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science (LEADS) scholars to provide how their respective counties decided to tackle the opioid crisis head-on using evidence-based practices and have had positive outcomes from doing so.

Today’s speakers are Major Wendy Stivers and Captain Cory Nelson, both of whom participated in NIJ’s LEADS program. Wendy is currently the Commander of the Central Patrol Division at the Dayton (Ohio) Police Department. She also holds a Masters Degree in criminal justice from the University of Cincinnati. Meanwhile, Cory is the Captain of the Madison (Wisconsin) Police Department, with 30 years of experience in law enforcement under his belt. He’s served in various law enforcement roles with his most recent involvement in Madison’s opiate-related criminal diversion program.

Together, Wendy and Cory recount the specifics of the programs that their respective jurisdictions put into effect to combat the opioid crisis. The course discussed:

  • An overview of the NIJ and its various initiatives, zeroing in on the NIJ LEADS Scholars Program.
  • Madison Wisconsin’s Addiction Recovery Initiative.
    • A brief backgrounder on opioids: Who becomes victims of heroin and the magnitude of its effect to society.
    • Statistics that looks at the OD rates, the Narcan and Naloxone saves, the demographics involved, and the related diseases that likewise increase due to sharing of needles.
    • The reality that existing law enforcement response isn’t working and the need for a paradigm shift which looks at addiction as a disease that needs to treated instead of a crime.
    • The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Policing Initiative Grant that Madison received which allowed them to design a holistic program that aims for criminal diversion of low property crimes to treatment.
    • The different agencies involved in the program including law enforcement, public health, and research/academe.
    • The training that Madison PD officers undertook that highlights a panel of those recovering from opiate abuse disorder which humanizes addiction by putting a face and a story behind addiction.
    • How treating opioid abuse disorder impacts crime rates.
    • The basis of Madison’s model, the step-by-step flow from referral to treatment, and the different stakeholders involved in the initiative.
    • The challenges that Madison county encountered to make the initiative happen.
  • Dayton Ohio’s Opioid Initiatives
    • How a documentary that featured Dayton’s opiate epidemic served as a wake-up call for the county to make active steps towards eradicating it.
    • Statistics that highlights the alarmingly increasing trend of overdose deaths in the area and the data collection method that they employed.
    • The Collective Impact Model that Dayton utilized for their program which brought together various stakeholders and enabled a responsive data system with rapid reporting.
    • Utilizing mapping to identify where a lot of the overdoses is happening.
    • The different collaborations and agencies that got involved across the education, law enforcement, probations, and public health field.
    • The various types of responses put into place that involve:
      • Naloxone deployment administered by Dayton PD’s officers to individuals in need.
      • Conversations for Change (C4C) that drove community action encouraging those struggling with addiction to connect with health care providers.
      • Front Door Recovery Centers that make treatment accessible to anyone who needs it in the soonest possible time through 24/7 assistance in community-based opiate recovery clinics.
      • Getting Recovery Options Working (GROW) Multi-Disciplinary Teams that goes door-to-door responding to overdose calls and follows up with individuals amidst recovery.
    • The programs’ outcomes, updates, and changes to take effect moving forward.
    • During the Q&A, Wendy and Cory addressed questions raised about:
      • The ICS standards for emergency management.
      • Things that they wish they knew before starting their projects.
      • Affecting attitude/behavioral changes and responses towards addictions.
      • Community response and feedback to the programs.
      • The initiatives’ focus on the opioid epidemic.


Other Webinars in this Series are:

March 28: Implementing Evidence-Based Policing

July 11: Police-Led Field Experiments

August 1: Reducing Traffic Fatalities in Urban & Rural Areas


Audience Comments: 

  • “Great lectures today! Paradigm shifting reassessment of policing and addiction science….Thank you to all presenters.” — Anthony
  •  “I learned a lot on how Law Enforcement is working hard to better the community and helping people who suffer from substance abuse issues. This was a very informative webinar and feel other law enforcement agencies could really benefit from this.” — Kara
  • “The most valuable thing I learned from this webinar is how this multi disciplinary unit was able to work collaboratively in achieving one goal, which is addressing drug addiction as a disease. This in turn prevents (lowers) crime, allows individuals quick access to substance recovery, provides the alternative to incarceration so that these people can return as a full functional participating member of society.” — David
  • “These presenters had many good examples and stories on how they fostered collaboration and did great work. ” –Jeff
  • “It’s nice to see that a multi-pronged, multi-organization collaboration is working–and seems to be more effective that working in your own little silo. Thank you!” — L
  • “Process of learning about the problem, the learning curve for police officers, and how they set up interdisciplinary programs. I especially appreciate their honesty about having to show they care in order to gain trust. Very different policing strategies at play .. and they appear to work!” –Jane
  • “We are creating a program here in [name of City]. This webinar showed me that we are on the right track and also provided some additional ideas that I will vet with our leadership and community partners.” –Randi
Additional Resources
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