To Protect and Serve –

Feb 23, 2020 – He always bought his morning snort of heroin from his trusted dealers there, then he’d go back to the suburbs to cut hair at the barbershop he owns. He commuted more than an hour to get his fix.

On that summer day, though, James was hauled to a police station and — to his surprise — placed in a drug-treatment program instead of going to the Cook County Jail.

He’s one of more than 250 people who’ve agreed to participate in the “narcotics arrest diversion program” the Chicago Police Department launched in the Harrison District in mid-2018.

It’s a novel way for the police to deal with people who don’t have convictions for violent crimes and who buy small amounts of drugs to feed their habits. The program is part of a larger effort by the city to deal with the massive opioid abuse problem here.

At least 1,151 people died last year in Cook County of overdoses from opioids like heroin, more than twice the deaths in Chicago from shootings, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.


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