I worked for many years on Patrol and then in Detention and I frequently voiced my concern that we didn’t have a location to take someone who I felt needed assistance and not incarceration, that if we could only provide testing and counseling services to drug or alcohol addicted people and not incarceration and that we had no way of dealing with the elderly who wander away from their caregiver. I watched as Crossroads, a collaborative program between government and the private sector, began and was making a significant impact in our community and on the jail population by providing housing and wrap around services. I then became aware of Sober 24, where citizens are sent for routine testing for drugs and alcohol and further wrap around services to include counseling and job finding skills. When asked to take over the Wandering Prevention Program, a grant funded program providing resources and tracking services to individuals with Alzheimer’s, Dementia and children with Autism, I jumped at the chance. I have tripled the number of participant on the program simply by communicating with local individuals, facilities and various groups around the county.
When trying to affect recidivism, jail population and crime rate and programs such as Crossroads and Sober 24, that have proven track records of saving peoples lives, breaking the cycle of addiction, and saving tax payer money, programs like these cannot and will not be overlooked by my administration. They do this by keeping people out of jail at the rate of approximately 100,000 bed days saved per year, by providing housing and wrap around services to its clients for under two dollars ($2) per day when housing that same inmate could cost tax payers $126 to $378 per day, by reducing transports by EMS, by reducing ER visits and by limiting the number of calls for service to deal with these super utilizers. I am committed to increasing their impact on the community and have set a goal of increasing bed days saved to 300,000 bed days within the first four years of my administration.
As Washoe County Sheriff and keeper of the county budget for Law Enforcement services provided by the Sheriff’s Office and as a Law Enforcement executive, I cannot overlook the positive effect and cost savings programs such as these are having on our citizens, our community and on our tax payers. I whole heartedly support what these programs are doing and will assist in increasing the scope of these programs and other programs that have positive effects on our community. I believe we will see dramatic decreases in the number of inmates in custody, a reduction in crime and reduction in the overall burden on the system. Citizens actively working on their sobriety, their mental health and complying with court orders are less likely to be committing crime, victimizing others or driving drunk. Law enforcement involvement will be decreased, freeing officers to respond to other calls for services, providing a greater presence in your neighborhoods. EMS will experience less interactions with these citizens and ER’s will also experience lower utilization. These affects are currently being tracked so I know the programs are working and working very well. The key is helping them expand so as our population increases, we are not exponentially increasing the burden on Law Enforcement and our consolidated jail.