Despite expanding its opioid abuse response programs in recent years, West Virginia’s law enforcement has not tapped into their full potential. Without additional legislative measures supporting these local efforts, West Virginia’s law enforcement cannot maximize their reach or effectiveness.

Key Points:

  • West Virginia’s law enforcement agencies are increasingly adopting new strategies to counter the opioid epidemic that favor treatment over traditional criminal justice methods.
  • West Virginia’s opioid abuse response now includes Quick Response Teams, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, and an Angel Initiative. Collectively, these programs aim to reduce drug overdoses and replace criminal justice involvement with treatment.
  • West Virginia’s law enforcement–led opioid abuse response programs fail to reach their full potential, with limited geographic reach and officers lacking legal procedures available to peers in other states.
  • Lawmakers could expand program reach by providing greater state support and guidance for local initiatives and by authorizing angel initiatives for local law enforcement.
  • Providing law enforcement officers in West Virginia with civil protective custody powers and additional citation authority could help them better respond to opioid-related emergencies without resorting to arrests.

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