Ulster Co.'s ORACLE program nationally recognized
Diane Pineiro-Zucker is reporting for the Daily Freeman the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office Opioid Response as County Law Enforcement, or ORACLE, initiative has now been nationally recognized for its effort at treating substance abuse, the department said this week. ORACLE was selected by The Rural Justice Collaborative and the National Center for State Courts, along with 18 other programs nationwide “as one of the country’s most innovative rural justice programs and will serve as a model for other communities across the country,” according to a press release. ORACLE is a crisis-intervention and recovery response program based out of the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office. The response team includes crisis intervention team officers, a mental health and substance use social worker, two peer recovery advocates and a high-risk care manager. The program provides direct assistance to those who overdose and works with government agencies, law enforcement organizations and others to coordinate a variety of services provided by state and county-level health departments, including social services and child services. Sheriff Juan Figueroa said in 2020 that ORACLE was an attempt to do things differently in Ulster County law enforcement. “What we were doing just wasn’t working,” Figueroa said. “Arresting people — it wasn’t working.” He said his office has transformed into a new organization when it comes to people who struggle with drugs. “Don’t get me wrong,” Figueroa said. “We’re still going to arrest drug dealers. … Our mindset has changed. The whole country has changed.” The three-phase program includes opioid addiction education in the community, a confidential hotline for anyone struggling with opioid addiction, and a medication-assisted opioid treatment program for people incarcerated in the county jail. Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.