Tulsa police can now drop off people they arrest for public intoxication at the Tulsa Sobering Center instead of taking them to jail.
According to the City of Tulsa, more than half of people booked into the city jail are there for public intoxication. At the sobering center, they’ll have a place to rest, get a meal, and be referred to addiction treatment. Clients will not face charges or have a recorded arrest.
Deputy Police Chief Jonathan Brooks said the facility puts Tulsa on the map.
“I don’t know of another city that has a sobering center to this level and this quality,” Brooks said. “And I challenge anybody, if you can find one, let me know about it because we visited everywhere.”
The facility is in City Councilor Karen Gilbert’s district.
“There were some constituents that weren’t too excited about it, but then once they found out what the program was all about, they were all over it and said, ‘Yes, yes, yes. We want it,'” Gilbert said.
City officials say the sobering center will get police officers back on the streets faster than if they had to take a trip to jail. The city will spend $250,000 a year for addiction recovery program 12&12 to operate the sobering center. Mayor G.T. Bynum said it’s a fiscally responsible move.
“We’re saving hundreds of thousands of dollars by doing this. We’re making better use of officer time. But most importantly, we’re going to save the lives of people in Tulsa, there’s no doubt in my mind, by having this facility in place,” Bynum said.
The Tulsa Sobering Center will let up to 25 men and 17 women at a time stay for 10 hours if they’ve been picked up for public intoxication and are non-combative. Men and women will be in separate areas.
The Tulsa Sobering Center will be open 365 days a year for Tulsa Police Department use. It will not be open to the public.
Original Public Radio Tulsa Article can be found by clicking here.