Opioid Crisis Forces Cops Into Social Work

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The opioid epidemic is changing the way law enforcement does its job, with police officers acting as drug counselors and medical workers and shifting from law-and-order tactics to approaches more akin to social work, the Washington Post reports. Departments accustomed to arresting drug abusers are spearheading programs to get them into treatment, convinced that their old strategies weren’t working. They administer medication that reverses overdoses, allow users to turn in drugs in exchange for treatment, and partner with hospitals to intervene before abuse turns fatal. “A lot of the officers are resistant to what we call social work. They want to go out and fight crime, put people in jail,” said Capt. Ron Meyers of the police department in Chillicothe, Oh., a 21-year veteran who is convinced that punitive tactics no longer work against drugs. “We need to make sure the officers understand this is what is going to stop the epidemic.”

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