Shakopee is hoping to help people with addictions get the treatment they need – and it's the only program of its kind in the state.
The city's drug arrests rose 33 percent last year, which prompted Shakopee Police Chief Jeff Tate to think of a new way to handle the area's drug problem, Shakopee Valley News reports.
"We know we cannot arrest and ticket our way out of this," Tate told the paper.
Instead, the police department is offering $3,000 scholarships to help rehabilitate people who are addicted to drugs – and the department used a 4/20 to let people know about its new program.
The program is modeled after one that was started in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Tate told BringMeTheNews, adding he believes it's the only type of program being offered in Minnesota.
The scholarship can be used to off-set the cost of drug or alcohol treatment at Five Stars Recovery Center in nearby Chaska, according to the city's website. And the money used for the program doesn't come from tax dollars – it's funded by drug and alcohol forfeiture cases (that's the money taken from criminals during investigations).
Tate said the police department toured the Five Stars facility before implementing the program, and they got to see how much cost can impact a person's decision to continue with treatment.
But the program isn't meant to just help people pay for it – the police department hopes to become another form of support for people who are recovering, as well as have a positive impact on their families and the community, Tate explained.
Start to program is 'encouraging'
So far, four people have been given scholarships since the program began last month, Tate told BringMeTheNews, adding he was going to be happy if they just got one applicant in the first month.
"I think that's fantastic and it's really encouraging moving forward," he said.
To be eligible for the program, a person must live in Shakopee, complete at least 30 days of treatment, be in good standing with the treatment center, and provide monthly updates to the police department on their treatment.
For more information about how to apply for the scholarship, call the department's crime prevention unit at 952-233-9441 or contact Five Stars Recovery Center at 952-448-6557.
Tate told BringMeTheNews the department hopes to work with other treatment facilities in the future.
Drug treatment statistics
In 2015, there were 22,635 admissions to drug treatment centers in the Twin Cities metro area, according to the latest Drug Abuse Dialogues report released earlier this month. That's up from 2014, when there were 21,928 admissions to treatment programs in the region.
Here's a look at the primary substance that people sought treatment for last year:
In 2009, 23.5 million people age 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009 – that's 9.3 percent of the population in that age range, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The agency says only 11.2 percent of those people who needed treatment actually received it at a specialty facility.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services has a list of resources here for family members and friends of people with substance abuse issues.