Rehab Center Requires Dedicated Funding

We agree with a group of area residents who are trying to establish more rehabilitation centers in Jamestown — more help is needed in Jamestown to treat addiction.

Diverting money from the Jamestown Police Department is not the way to go about achieving that goal.

Logically, the City Council is the wrong place to start. The group asked City Council members to take 50 percent of the city’s drug asset forfeiture money and use it to help pay for rehabilitation and detox centers. The Jamestown Police Department and Jamestown Metro Drug Task Force need every cent of the pittance they receive from drug asset forfeiture to pay for equipment and operations. The city of Jamestown is not in a financial position to provide additional funding to the police department to pay for new equipment or to facilitate drug buys for undercover officers, and there are drug dealers in the city who need to be removed from the streets.

New York state took in $28.5 million from drug asset forfeiture in 2016, with the state keeping 40 percent, 25 percent going to district attorneys’ offices and 35 percent back to local reimbursements. In 2016, of that $28.5 million taken in statewide, Chautauqua County received $50,000 and Jamestown received $17,000. The state’s share came to $11.4 million, some of which is sent back to local communities through the state Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services.

The request points a spotlight on a bigger issue as well. The advocates likely thought was more money available when they made their request, but continued on even after hearing Harry Snellings, Jamestown police chief and public safety director, discuss how the drug asset forfeiture process works. The concerned citizens came to the council asking for roughly $8,500 a year, a pittance in the yearly cost to run a rehabilitation center. Dedicated money is needed, though Jamestown isn’t the right well to tap. Webber, Germain and the rest of the group who appeared before the council should absolutely continue their advocacy. Perhaps there is room on County Executive George Borrello’s Countywide Alliance for Enforcement and Rehabilitation for members of this group or passionate community members who could bring an outsider’s perspective of the work being done in addiction rehabilitation.