PHILADELPHIA –The City of Philadelphia today announced the launch of Police-Assisted Diversion (PAD), an important tool in the City’s multi-pronged effort to reduce incarceration, lessen racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system, and fight the opioid epidemic.

PAD is a collaborative partnership among police officers, service providers, and community members to provide a pathway to services for those in need. Through this initiative, police officers are able to redirect low-level offenders engaged in drug and prostitution activity to community-based services instead of prosecution and jail.

Traditionally, when a police officer encountered someone struggling with a substance use disorder, they could either make an arrest, or release the individual into the same social conditions with no additional resources in place. Through PAD, Philadelphians now have a third option grounded in harm reduction, thanks to the City’s criminal justice and public health partners.

PAD is one of 19 initiatives under the City’s Safety and Justice Challenge effort, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, to safely reduce the incarcerated population by 34% over 3 years and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system. Since 2015, the City has seen a 27% decrease in this number, and PAD will serve as a way to divert eligible participants from unnecessary incarceration.

Officials in attendance to mark the launch were Mayor Jim Kenney, Police Commissioner Richard Ross, District Attorney Larry Krasner, Council President Darrell Clarke, and Councilman Curtis Jones, Ric Tull on behalf of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services Commissioner David T. Jones.

“I am committed to fighting the opioid epidemic and programs like PAD are one of the ways we are tackling this great challenge facing our city,” said Mayor Kenney. “I want to thank all of those involved in bringing this program to Philadelphia, City departments, the First Judicial District, the Defender Association, and the MacArthur Foundation and Open Society Foundation for their generous support.”

Mayor Kenney’s proposed budget calls for an annual investment of $750,000 for PAD to expand to East Division, which is part of a larger five-year, $20 million dollar investment to tackle the opioid crisis.

Currently, PAD is operating in the 22nd police district, Monday through Friday, 12-8 p.m., with plans to expand into the 39th police district.

PAD is a collaborative effort between the Philadelphia Police Department, Temple University Police Department, Managing Director’s Office of Criminal Justice, District Attorney’s Office, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disabilities Services, Defender Association of Philadelphia, Adult Probation and Parole Department, and local service provider, the Council of Southeastern Pennsylvania.