KINGSTON – Ulster County Sheriff Juan Figueroa announced that his agency’ received the “Sheriff’s Innovative Program Award”, given last week by the New York State Sheriffs’ Institute in Albany for the creation and implementation of the ORACLE (Opioid Response as County Law Enforcement) program.
According to Detective Lieutenant Abram Markiewicz this award, given each year since 2002, is presented to a sheriff’s office, “to recognize outstanding specialized programs that have been developed and implemented by that agency. This would include, but not limited to, programs that deal with youth, seniors, domestic violence, welfare fund, crime prevention or initiatives that save tax dollars.” This is the first time the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office has been given this award, which was selected amongst numerous submissions.
ORACLE, a program enacted by Sheriff Figueroa, focuses primarily on a four-phase approach. Phase 1 centers on education, which is accomplished primarily by the ORACLE trailer, partnering with locally-based family support groups and mental health professionals. Phase 2 focuses on the use of an “Overdose/Addiction Contact Teams Initiative (CTI)”. Previously established hotline(s) and peer advocate teams are used to steer those in need toward treatment programs, also with assistance from other public and private stakeholders. Phase 3 involves the implementation of a medically assisted treatment (MAT) program in the county jail. This includes using current best practices to administer medication to qualifying inmates, coupled with enhanced professional mental health services in the jail, as well as peer support with a focus on post-release follow-up. Phase 4 employs the “first chance” concept, which includes help with post-release employment training and placement. Among other ways, this is accomplished with the help of participating affiliates, such as the chambers of commerce in Ulster and surrounding counties.
Regarding the award, Sheriff Figueroa said, “The award shows the partnership and commitment of members of the sheriff’s office and the community we serve.”