Rep. Dave Hayes has pre-filed a bill for the 2018 legislative session that would create a pilot program in Snohomish County intended to provide centralized services that address issues of opioid addiction, behavioral health treatment, housing, employment and other critical needs.
Under House Bill 2287, a new criminal justice system diversion central pilot program would be created and funded through a state grant administered by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. Hayes said the diversion program would be operated from the grant under a partnership between the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office and the Snohomish County Human Services Division.
“This bill is targeted to battle the opioid epidemic, which contributes to additional crime, homelessness and other problems in our local communities. We think Snohomish County is a good venue to test this pilot program, because it has a severe opioid addiction crisis. The Snohomish Health District reports that just over one week this summer in July, thirty-seven opioid overdoses were reported in the county, including three deaths. That really shows the magnitude of this problem,” said Hayes, R-Camano Island.
Hayes believes a central location that provides temporary housing, treatment services, employment opportunities and an expedited connection to other services could be an effective method of battling the opioid crisis.
“Snohomish County plans to use existing facilities with a 40-bed capacity to help those high-need individuals who have frequent contact with law enforcement and are often homeless and impacted by behavioral health and drug-abuse issues,” added Hayes, assistant ranking Republican on the House Public Safety Committee. “It’s our hope that a collaborative effort of local social workers and our law enforcement community can identify at-risk individuals and help them get the comprehensive treatment and services they need through this new program.”
Hayes, who also serves as a sergeant with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, expects the pilot project to help reduce the use of crisis and emergency resources, lower criminal recidivism, and increase employment, housing stability and financial self-sufficiency for those who suffer from opioid addiction.
“The bill specifically calls out metrics that must be reported back to the Legislature by December 1, 2019. If it shows the pilot program has successfully reduced addiction and recidivism, the next step would be to use it as a template in other communities experiencing the same problems,” he added.
The 2018 legislative session begins Jan. 8 and is scheduled for 60 days in Olympia.