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Got illegal drugs? You can turn them into deputies, and they won't charge you

The Hillsborough County sheriff's program offers amnesty for addicts voluntarily seeking treatment.

TAMPA, Fla. — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office will allow anyone voluntarily seeking drug addiction treatment to drop off drugs without getting in legal trouble.

The sheriff's office announced the amnesty program Wednesday.

"Even if you just say, 'Hey, I have drugs with me,' you can bring them along, come to the facility, turn them in, no questions asked," Sheriff Chad Chronister said.

Users seeking treatment will not be charged with possession of a controlled substance while the individuals are voluntarily seeking drug addiction treatment. Also, a member of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office will take or arrange transportation for the person voluntarily seeking treatment to a medical facility.

“We’re never going to arrest our way out of any type of problem. We know it is going to be a multi-faceted approach," Chronister said. "It’s going to take education and prevention, and it’s going to take treatment, and obviously the enforcement part -- and we’re good at that.”

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For the treatment part, HCSO reached out to community healthcare providers like the Agency for Community Treatment Services, or ACTS, who deal directly with the drug-dependent community. 

These providers are in Orlando right now at the Florida Behavior Health Conference dealing with exactly this issue—how to treat individuals in Florida dealing with a substance abuse disorder.

“[I am ] honored to be a part of a community where the sheriff’s office has taken the initiative to decriminalize substance abuse disorders. That’s super important and we’ve been struggling to get to this day for a long time,” said Asha Terminello, the CEO of ACTS.

Of course, even HCSO cannot force anyone to get treatment but they believe, even in those cases, this program has potential.

"It’s a voluntary program," Chronister said. "Maybe they are fearful that law enforcement is onto them and they just want to get rid of their drugs. 

"You know what, that’s drugs that won’t fall into the hands of someone else.”

And for Terminello, even just creating the pathway to recovery is a step in the right direction.

“They always say, when people can’t find you, they don’t know what ACTS is, they don’t know who other providers are. Where do we go for services?" Terminello said. "Well, how easy is it to say, just go to your local sheriff’s office? And now it becomes a link to services. 

"How fantastic is that?"

Anyone wanting addiction treatment and to drop off their controlled substance can do so at any of these sheriff's office locations:

  • Sheriff's Operations Center
    2008 E. 8th Ave., Tampa

  • Orient Road Jail
    1201 Orient Road, Tampa

  • Falkenburg Road Jail
    520 N. Falkenburg Road, Tampa

  • 14102 N. 20th St. Tampa

  • 2310 N. Falkenburg Road, Tampa

  • 7202 Gunn Highway, Tampa

  • 508 33rd St. SE, Ruskin

  • 10128 Windhorst Road, Tampa

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