District #100 Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther thanked community member Jan Statt for helping shape a new program to help addicts during a roundtable discussion at Catskill Regional Medical Center on Tuesday.
Statt's perspective is valuable here as she lost her son, Jon, to an opioid addiction in April. She told Spectrum News her family battled everyday to find a treatment program that would accept Jon.
"Even when he was sitting on a hospital bed, begging for treatment, they could not provide it to him. There were times that he did go to a police department for help when he was homeless. At that point there really wasn't help for him," Statt said.
Police in Sullivan County collectively said on Tuesday that anytime an addict comes to a department or an officer seeking help, they are going to work on the addict's behalf to find the proper treatment program.
Officials made it clear if addicts showed up intoxicated or even had small amounts of drugs in their pockets, they would not face charges for those minor offenses.
However, if an addict who is seeking help also has an active warrant, it would be handled.
"That's a different issue," District Attorney Jim Farrell said when asked about warrants. "If a person has a warrant, they have to deal with a warrant. I can't override a judge."
Farrell said people with warrants out on them can still find help, and that addressing the warrant could land someone in a treatment program.
"If there's a warrant, and potentially the person is eligible for drug treatment court, then we could get them into drug treatment court," Farrel said.
Statt said the outreach alone is a big step toward fully addressing all aspects of addiction and addiction treatment.
"I think this initiative is the closest that I've seen anything happening to try to coordinate all of the care that can be brought," Statt said. "It's out there. It just needs to be coordinated, and people need to know how to find it."