City puts up funds to seek grant for detox center |

City puts up funds to seek grant for detox center

John Colson

Aspen’s City Council agreed Tuesday to spend $10,000 in “seed money” that police hope will lead to the establishment of a drug and alcohol detoxification and treatment center here.

The money is to be used to hire a “professional grant researcher/ writer to work with the Chemical Dependency Task Force in developing a grant that designs, implements and funds a Detox Pilot Program for the community of Aspen,” according to documents submitted to the council last night.

The documents were presented along with a verbal presentation by Aspen Police Assistant Chief Keith Ikeda, who told the City Council that from 1996 through early 1999, a temporary detox facility at the Schultz Health and Human Services Building handled between 160 and 180 people per year.

These were people who were obviously intoxicated, stoned or otherwise incapacitated by drugs or alcohol, but who either had not committed an offense serious enough to land them in jail or were so intoxicated as to be considered a liability by the jail staff.

Ikeda said the temporary 24-hour detox center closed in 1999 for a number of reasons. He said the facility was too small and not “secure,” meaning those being held might escape; staff turnover was high and staff levels often were inadequate to keep the facility open; there was no treatment available for those being held; and funds ran short to keep it open.

In addition, Ikeda indicated that plans to put a detox center at a new medical office building adjacent to Aspen Valley Hospital have been put on hold, because the office building itself may never be built.

Presently, he said, police have five basic options for dealing with such problem cases: They can be released to a “sober, responsible person” if one can be found who is willing to claim the person. The person can be taken to Aspen Valley Hospital for medical evaluation and detoxification, but the hospital is neither “secure” nor “cost effective,” Ikeda said. Police can drive the person to the Glenwood Springs detox center, but that facility only has six beds and is often full. Plus, Ikeda said, the Glenwood center is not “secure” and “will not accept resistive or belligerent individuals.” Place the person in a “holding cell” at the Pitkin County Jail, which creates the liability problems, because the staff is not trained to handle such situations. Arrest the individual on a minor charge (public intoxication was decriminalized in Colorado back in the 1960s) and put them in a regular cell. The council agreed that the situation constitutes a public health problem, and said they would put the $10,000 in the budget for the year 2000.

Ikeda said he hopes the grant-writing process will take no more than three months, and should cost between $6,000 and $8,000. The remainder of the city funds, he said, can go toward research, long-distance phone bills, publishing and logistics for “work sessions,” or be used as matching funds for grants.

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