BOONE COUNTY (WREX)— Belvidere and Boone County leaders have created a program to help those with opioid addictions.
It's called SORT and includes two positions.
One of those positions is with the Belvidere Police Department.
The position would involve an officer who will work as a community officer that will talk to and check up on those struggling with addiction.
Belvidere Police Chief Shane Woody says officers are the ones who interact with drug abusers when 911 is called and have a good idea of which resources a person may need
"A lot of times we already have that information gathered and are in a position to be able to know the potential clients that can be beneficial," said Chief Woody.
"The whole nation is going through the epidemic, Illinois is going through an opioid epidemic but what they found in Boone County is that our fatal overdose rate is higher than the average for Illinois," said Boone County Health Department Program Manager Jessica Perillo.
The other position is a drug abuse counselor that would be used in the Boone County Jail.
This person will focus on helping inmates create a healthy plan once they are released from custody.
"There can sometimes be a lag when someone is released and someone enters treatment because there are so many things they have to do in between. But if we bring it to them in jail, we are able to complete all of that, complete the paperwork, get them signed up," said Perillo.
Leaders say this program will lead to lower crime rates, less recidivism, and most importantly, fewer people remaining addicted or dying from opioid addiction.
The program is funded through a federal grant, which was approved by the Belvidere City Council Monday night.