Tucson police are trying to help suspected drug dealers instead of arresting them
Earlier this year, the Tucson Police Department invited nine people accused of selling drugs in a specific part of town down to the station.
None were involved in violent crimes, nor had a history of prior offenses. They were allowed to bring a loved one and had the chance to see the cases the department had been building against them. And then, they were offered a choice: to keep doing what they had been doing, or with the community’s help, to stop selling drugs.
The program, called a Drug Market Intervention, is part of a larger initiative in Tucson which targets a part of a specific ZIP code in the city. In addition to the police department, it includes Arizona State University and local service providers, and it's is a model that’s been used in other cities, as well.
It’s important to note that even if the suspected sellers sign their agreements, the cases against them do not go away completely. If they go back to selling, they’ll face not only those new charges, but the original ones, as well.
Caitlin Schmidt is a solutions reporter at the Arizona Daily Star who covered the program. The Show talked with her about what happens after the offenders agree to get help.