Mayor G.T. Bynum’s initiative to divert routine intoxication arrests from the court system and provide people with needed substance abuse treatment has hit the ground running.
The city opened its new Sobering Center in the Hardesty Wing of 12&12, 6333 E. Skelly Drive, on Wednesday.
People detained by police for routine public intoxication will be taken to the center until they are sober and will be offered help with substance abuse problems. If treating inebriation as a symptom rather than a crime gets more people into treatment programs, then the center will be a great boon to society. There’s no doubt it will easily achieve a much simpler goal: increasing the efficiency of the Tulsa police.
Arresting and booking drunks has resulted in officers waiting at the Tulsa Jail for hours at times. The new system will only slow them down for a few minutes. So, the same number of police officers will be able to spend more time on patrol.
The Sobering Center will be operated by 12&12 staff. The Hardesty Family Foundation generously paid for its construction. First-year operations will cost the city $250,000.
There were a lot of legitimate concerns with how a sobering center would operate, but the city seems to have them handled.
Inebriated people will stay at the facility for at least 10 hours. No one will be released to the streets from the center. They can be picked up from the center or will be given taxi transportation elsewhere. Those without a place to call home will be directed to local shelters.
Only simple intoxication cases will be diverted to the sobering center. Drunken drivers and people involved in other more serious crimes still go to jail and then into the court system.
The Sobering Center is an innovative solution to several problems. It offers the hope that people with substance abuse problems will get the help they need and the reality that police officers will be able to get drunks off the streets safely and efficiently.
Original Tulsa World Article can be found by clicking here.