A new program to help drug addicts will stress treatment instead of arrest and jail. Tuesday police and the sheriff's department in Rock Island County, and the Robert Young Center announced "Safe Passage."
Sheriff Gerry Bustos says Safe Passage will allow people to seek treatment without fear of being arrested.
"These individuals can come to any of our police departments, or the sheriff's office, turn in their drugs and turn in their paraphernalia over to an officer without repercussions of being arrested. And we will start with getting them on the path they need to recovery."
He says treatment will be provided by the Robert Young Center here in the Quad Cities, plus the Rosecrance Center in Rockford, Chestnut Health Systems in Bloomington, and the Gateway Foundation in Chicago.
Mark Van Klavern is the police chief in Silvis.
"This is not a poor problem or a rich problem, this hits all socio-economic levels of society. This is a burden on families, our social system, our jails, and the police."
Since 2008, Illinois has recorded 11,000 deaths due to drug overdoses, including 1,900 last year . There have been 64 drug-related deaths in Rock Island County since 2011.
Bustos says as part of the treatment, people will be paired with a volunteer, called a "safe passage guide," and Edgewood Baptist Church in Rock Island has agreed to provide the first group of volunteers but more are needed.