In an effort by counties to save money, law enforcement agencies are transporting residents in need of detox centers all across the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, with the result resembling a game of musical chairs, says the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Washington County ships residents who need to sleep one off to a detox center in Dakota County. Dakota County sends their residents to Ramsey County. Anoka County scatters intoxicated people across three counties.
Some worry that the new system has become so inconvenient for police that more officers will leave intoxicated people with relatives rather than take them to professionals who could better help them deal with their alcohol-related problems. “This is all about budget cuts. This is what it boils down to,” said David DeRusha of the Ramsey County Detoxification Center, who said he could fill many more beds than the 50 he has available at the downtown St. Paul site. In 1973, the Minnesota Legislature mandated that all counties provide detoxification services. At the time, the federal government provided $3 to every local dollar for such services. Now, counties largely fend for themselves, and in 2002 spent $16 million statewide on detox services.