West Virginia Governor Jim Justice has announced a federal grant that will help combat the drug crisis.
The $6 million comes from the Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Site-based Program (COSSAP) through the Justice and Community Services section of the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security.
The grant will help support two strategies, pre-arrest diversion and school-based prevention.
Pre-arrest diversion is through the Office of Drug Control Policy at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. The state has taken steps to implement three models of diversion, which are Quick Response Teams, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion and the West Virginia Angel Initiative. This grant will help these three initiatives to collaborate.
The grant will also help school-based prevention. This will expand the Prevention Resource Officer program to nearly all counties. PROs are certified law enforcement officers who receive special training to serve in their local elementary, middle, and high schools. They build trust with students to mentor them, prevent and respond to dangerous school situations, and serve as liaisons between students and staff.
More than 100 trained PROs are serving in 35 counties and this grant will add them to 18 additional counties, including Boone, McDowell, Mingo, Wayne, Gilmer, Grant, Marion, Mercer, Pendleton, Pleasants, Pocahontas, Preston, Randolph, Summers, Tucker, Tyler, Webster, and Wirt counties.