Adult Deflection Program
Pathways pre-arrest adult diversion program was implemented in Door County in 2019 as a voluntary program to support individuals seeking assistance in stopping their drug use. In 2024, Door County shifted to a deflection model, which is a grant funded program through the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
Deflection refers to any collaborative intervention connecting law enforcement, other first responders, and community responders with public health systems to create pathways to treatment and services for non-violent individuals with low to moderate criminogenic risk, who have substance use disorder, mental health disorder, or co-occurring disorders, and who often have other service needs. These needs may include treatment, recovery support, mental health services, community resources, and case management. Deflection is not an appropriate program option for high-risk individuals that have been through the justice system many times already. Eligible individuals are required to participate in drug treatment services for harm reduction efforts.
Deflection consists of multiple pathways in which someone can be referred:
- Self-referral: an individual who voluntarily initiates contact with a first responder agency for a referral to treatment and services, without fear of arrest.
- Active Outreach: a first responder intentionally identifies or seeks out individuals with substance use disorder to refer them to or engage them in treatment services.
- Naloxone Plus: a first responder and program partner conduct outreach specifically to individuals who have recently experienced an opioid overdose to engage them in and provide linkages to treatment and services.
- First Responder and Officer Referral: During routine activities, a first responder engages individuals and provides a referral to treatment, services, or to a case manager.
- Officer Intervention: During routine activities during which charges otherwise would be filed, law enforcement provides a referral to a case manager who can assist with proper service coordination. The individual can opt into this referral option if offered to them, and has the opportunity to complete programming in lieu of arrest or citation. Charges are held during this time, and if the individual does not complete the programming successfully, notice would be sent to the District Attorney to follow through on charges.
- Community Response: In response to a call for service, a team comprising of community-based behavioral health professionals engage individuals to help de-escalate crisis, mediate low-level conflicts, or address quality of life issues by providing a referral to treatment, services, or a case manager.
Deflection is shown to benefit public health by enhancing police and community relations, decreasing traumatic experiences, improving health and safety, reducing substance use disorder, improving family and financial stability, and improving neighborhood and social order.
One main objective of the deflection program is to connect individuals to systems of care at the earliest point possible, to provide necessary resources and skills to improve recovery outcomes, and reduce criminal activity. This includes reducing recidivism and limiting exposure to the justice system, improving linkages to substance use disorder treatment services and compliance, improving housing, education, and employment for individuals, and reaching sobriety or a reduction in substance use.