CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia will receive a $6 million grant to help fight the drug crisis in West Virginia.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says the grant is designed to strengthen strategies that target addiction through prevention, intervention and diversion through two approaches: pre-arrest diversion and school-based prevention.
Through the Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, this grant will allow these three initiatives, known as the West Virginia QLA Early Intervention Program to work closely and enhance the successes of the Quick Response Teams, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program, and the West Virginia Angel Initiative.
The Quick Response Team works with people who have overdosed and require treatment options, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion provides alternatives to the criminal justice system in low-level offenses such as drug possession and the West Virginia Angel Initiative allows West Virginia State Police to refer people to treatment without fear of prosecution for possession of illegal substances paraphernalia.
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. This opportunity will allow for the alignment of critical services to serve as a framework of best practices to expand across the state.Rachel Thaxton, ODCP Assistant Director
The grant will also allow for school-based prevention, which will allow for the expansion of the Prevention Resource Officer (PRO) program to nearly all West Virginia counties. PROs are certified law enforcement officers who receive special training to serve in their local elementary, middle, and high schools. PRO’s goals are to build trust with students to mentor them, prevent and respond to dangerous school situations, and serve as liaisons between students and staff.
There are more than 100 trained PROs currently serve in 35 counties. The grant will add more of them to Boone, Gilmer, Grant, Marion, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Pendleton, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Preston, Randolph, Summers, Tucker, Tyler, Wayne, Webster, and Wirt counties.
Justice says the funding comes from the Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Site-based Program through the Justice and Community Services section of the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security.