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Whiteside County program helps drug addicts get clean, without legal ramifications

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The Rock Falls Police Department will take a different approach to how it handles drug addicts.

Starting Mar. 1. Whiteside County will adapt the Safe Passage Program, which allows drug users to turn themselves in to the police to get treatment.

"We'll get them into treatment as quickly as possible, hopefully within a two hour window is what we hope for most times," says Rock Falls Police Chief Tammy Nelson.

The purpose of this program is to divert addicts away from the criminal justice system and provide them with the help they need.

"My belief is anytime we can help people seek recovery and remove barriers in a nonjudgmental way it is helpful and anytime we can remove illicit substances or prescription medications that is no longer appropriate or needed again that's a benefit to the community," says the Center for Alcohol and Drug Services Inc.  Vice President, Heather Olsen.

Lee County initially started the Safe Passage Program last year, now Whiteside County hopes to expand it. The Rock Island County Sheriff's Department is also in the beginning stages of bringing the safe passage program closer to the Quad Cities.