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$6 million awarded to fight drug crisis

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Published: Nov. 10, 2020 at 10:55 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has announced a federal grant that will help combat the drug crisis.

The $6 million comes from the Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Site-based Program (COSSAP) through the Justice and Community Services section of the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security.

“I’ve said many times that we need to do everything in our power and be willing to use every tool in our toolbelt to combat the epidemic we continue to face against opioids,” Gov. Justice said. “This grant is a truly fantastic help in that fight. It’s going to provide all kinds of new pathways and access to treatment for West Virginians who may be struggling. I could not be more excited for this grant.”

Governor Justice made the announcement on Tuesday and says it will help the state strengthen cutting-edge strategies that will target addiction through prevention, intervention and diversion.

The grant will help support two strategies, pre-arrest diversion and school-based prevention.

Pre-arrest diversion is through the Office of Drug Control Policy at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. The state has taken steps to implement three models of diversion, which are Quick Response Teams, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion and the West Virginia Angel Initiative. This grant will help these three initiatives to collaborate.

This approach will be known as the West Virginia QLA Early Intervention Program.

“West Virginia has implemented a variety of initiatives to address the SUD epidemic and the fear associated with asking for help, including adopting and promoting several programs of Pre-Arrest Diversion,” said ODCP Assistant Director Rachel Thaxton. “This opportunity will allow for the alignment of critical services to serve as a framework of best practices to expand across the state.”

The grant will also help school-based prevention. This will expand the Prevention Resource Officer program to nearly all counties. PROs are certified law enforcement officers who receive special training to serve in their local elementary, middle, and high schools. They build trust with students to mentor them, prevent and respond to dangerous school situations, and serve as liaisons between students and staff.

Over 100 trained PROs are serving in 35 counties and this grant will add them to 18 additional counties, including Boone, Gilmer, Grant, Marion, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Pendleton, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Preston, Randolph, Summers, Tucker, Tyler, Wayne, Webster, and Wirt counties.

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