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Stop, Triage, Engage, Educate, and Rehabilitate (STEER) – Montgomery County

The Stop, Triage, Engage, Educate, and Rehabilitate (STEER) program is a form of pre-arrest law enforcement deflection and diversion that offers a pathway to treatment instead of arrest for citizens when drug addiction, especially to opioids, is a contributing factor to contact with police. Developed by Montgomery County, Maryland Treatment Centers, Police Executive Research Forum, and the Center for Health and Justice at The Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities as a pilot program, STEER promotes a reduction in recidivism, as well as recovery. Police officers can screen and divert potential candidates to addiction support services prior to arrest in cases where charges might potentially be present. Candidates that have been identified as having an addiction, but no criminal charges are also referred to prevention help through the STEER program.

STEER uses overdose cases as an opportunity to get individuals dealing with abuse and addiction treatment. Candidates that have been designated by police officers as a fit for the STEER criteria are then given a warm handoff to STEER case managers. These case managers will follow through with engagement, treatment, and recovery services. Peer recovery coaches are also present to support the individual as they transition from referral to treatment to long term recovery.

The use of STEER as a screening process enables police officers to use a field risk-need screen to determine if an offender is better suited for treatment in place of charges. Serious charges may be held in abeyance if individuals willingly seek treatment. This creates a sense of public service trust by providing law enforcement with an evidence-based intervention to get at the root of the challenge faced by those with addiction instead of merely affecting an arrest or releasing the person without addressing their behavioral health issues. After one full year of data (STEER is coming up on two years of operation) and evaluation by George Mason University, 200 individuals have been referred to a STEER case manager with 87 being referred to treatment. It has a treatment retention rate of 53 percent, above the national average of 45 percent engagement.

Interested in learning more? Contact:
Meghan Westwood
Executive Director
Contract Management at Maryland Treatment Centers