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Police departments work together to fight substance abuse
, Courier Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 14, 2017 3:02 PM
“Hopefully it’s an open communication, an open dialogue, to where we can all improve everything we do. Maybe some of our ideas will help somebody else, and their ideas will help us.” — Madison Police Chief Dan Thurston
Madison police are expanding on the idea of groups sharing resources to battle substance abuse.
To maximize the impact of law enforcement, Madison Police Chief Dan Thurston is bringing together chiefs from around the region.
During a recent presentation at a meeting of the Coalition for Teens and Young Adults by Columbus Chief Jon Rohde, Thurston said an idea came to him. Mayor Damon Welch said he learned of successful substance abuse programs in Columbus at a southeastern Indiana mayors’ roundtable meeting.
“That triggered a thought,” Thurston said. “We should have something similar.”
Thurston spoke to Rohde about having a meeting of police chiefs from across the area. By sharing their experiences and information, Thurston said, chiefs from cities of all sizes might benefit.
For its first meeting, this unofficial southeastern Indiana chiefs’ roundtable, had no set agenda – but that was partially by design.
“I want the group to be dynamic and go wherever it needs to go,” Thurston said.
“Hopefully it’s an open communication, an open dialogue, to where we can all improve everything we do. Maybe some of our ideas will help somebody else, and their ideas will help us.”
Chiefs from departments in Columbus, Jeffersonville, Clarksville, Charlestown, Scottsburg, Austin, North Vernon, Hanover, Greensburg, Lawrenceburg and Seymour are included in the group.
Finding time for the bi-monthly meetings might be difficult, Thurston said, but not one invited chief didn’t like the idea.
During their first meeting the last week of February, Thurston said that sharing resources dominated conversation.
Though only in the early planning stages, he said, the group discussed creating a database that could be shared by departments and agencies.
Ideally, this database could also be made available to officers on patrol as they make traffic stops.
Another topic of discussion was the development of a “quick response team” – a program already in use by the Batesville Police Department.
A quick response team would include law enforcement officers, emergency medical personnel and substance abuse counselors. Following a drug-related arrest, the team would follow up with the person arrested or family members within 48 hours to connect them to services that could help.
Thurston said the team’s purpose would be to offer support and information, not to continue an investigation. Of course, he said, even for those arrested, it would be necessary to connect them with substance-abuse treatment programs.
By modeling the Batesville program, other cities, including Madison, might be able to get their own started sooner – a development that Thurston said fulfills the group’s mission.
The chiefs’ roundtable is set to meet again in April.
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