JIM THORPE, Pa. -- The Pennsylvania attorney general was in Carbon County Friday to talk about a new initiative to help people battling addiction.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro made a stop at the Carbon County Courthouse in Jim Thorpe to announce a new treatment outreach initiative.
The program connects local officials and law enforcement with people who are addicted to drugs to get them help.
"Drug addiction is a disease and not a crime. If you can begin to understand that, while also appreciating the fact that you have to get these poisons out of our communities, then I think you can begin to turn a corner and have real success," Shapiro said.
The state initiative called PA LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) is also designed to reduce drug arrests.
"For someone to walk in and ask for help for someone that we feel needs it and we have the option to get them there directly, that is beneficial," said Lehighton Police Chief Brian Biechy.
Carbon County officials say this initiative could be very beneficial. especially since their court system is bogged down with drug cases.
Carbon County District Attorney Jean Engler says the opioid crisis has brought too many people into the court system and has taken too many lives. She hopes this partnership will encourage people to get help.
"It is a signal that our traditional ways of doing things in law enforcement do not always work and new alternatives need to be sought. That is not only to help the individual with his or her addiction problems, but also to help all of us to prevent that individual from reoffending and that will keep all of us safe," Engler said.
PA LEAD is volunteer-based.
Anyone looking for help in Carbon County can go to the nearest police station, where officers will connect them with a treatment center.