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Catskill, New York
Politics/Government
1 November 2019 11:08AM

Diana Benoit for Greene County Sheriff. A platform for recovery over retribution, compassion over corrections, and service to our families who have suffered enough, over the status quo of “lock ‘em up”.

For far too long Greene County has largely ignored, both in budget items and action, the elephant in the room when it comes to the overdose crisis. Our small county has, in recent numbers climbed to #2 per capita in the state for opioid overdoses and overdose deaths. It is unacceptable and unconscionable to allow this to continue.

My team has come up with a plan involving restorative justice and diversion programs in order to keep our future from dying needlessly, families together, residents at work, and to get our community the help we so desperately need.

To start, when elected Sheriff, I intend to create a program of Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, or L.E.A.D., that would give the Deputies in my department the discretion on-scene to forgo an arrest that would not jeopardize public safety, and instead divert an individual whose actions can be accounted to an issue with Substance Use Disorder to treatment.

The individual will experience a “warm hand-off” to local service providers who will work to get them the needed assistance. I have seen that all too often, resources are unnecessarily used to lock people up who could benefit from treatment. In this way, we save taxpayer dollars and our community is served by lessening the numbers of people struggling with active addiction. While L.E.A.D isn’t foolproof, other jurisdictions have enjoyed a success rate at 60% effectiveness.

In addition, I intend to create a Helpline. This line would be available 24/7 through the Sheriff’s office and intended solely to connect our community to substance use services whether they be local, or regional. I believe we put a lot of energy in “Tip Lines” that are used mostly to make arrests and have a negative connotation.

Looking at the landscape of our community, while there are some larger suppliers, a majority of those possessing and selling illicit substances are users themselves. Getting those individuals to services before an arrest can significantly cut down on traffic and allow us to focus resources on the larger issues. Without a Helpline, we are stuck waiting for someone to give us information that may never come, and taking away an opportunity for those suffering to find help on their own before a life-changing arrest is made.
What I also bring into the Office is a major culture shift. This issue has not in my view been at the forefront of departmental priorities and I intend to change that.

While I do not support the monstrosity of a jail being built on 9W, I do believe we need a small jail, one that has a wealth of services for those who need them. For decades, those suffering from Substance Use Disorder were forced to go through withdrawal in the most inhumane way, and without the necessary medical assistance. This will stop under my leadership.

No matter what an individual has been accused of, it should not be department policy through action or inaction, to ensure they suffer until release. Especially, those who have yet to be convicted of anything. Under my administration, the Sheriff’s Office will begin to offer Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) to those who need it, and properly taper in accordance with medical advice and supervision on an individual basis.

With this, services that were locked out of the jail through previous administrations will be allowed in. Mental health services will be available daily and organizations like R.E.A.C.H., who aid men and women who were touched by sexual trauma, will have an opportunity to connect with those who need them.

If we are going to truly combat what is plaguing our community, a new approach is needed. We absolutely must change our way of thinking. The people suffering are members of our community and nowhere near expendable. They are our loved ones and co-workers, in short, our future. With
that I ask you to support this platform with a vote for me for Greene County Sheriff and help put our community first.

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