President Jim Bueermann testifies on police and drug violator recidivism at Capitol Hill forum

Police Foundation President Jim Bueermann was a panelist on April 29, 2014 at a daylong Capitol Hill forum on Addiction and Criminal Justice. Hosted by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), the forum included many senators and members of Congress, as well as experts from across the law enforcement spectrum addressing the issue of  how the United States can move away from incarcerating drug violators and toward a focus on prevention and treatment. The forum was organized by the Council of State Governments Justice Center.

President Bueermann, speaking during a panel on “Recidivism and Addiction,” said police need to find alternatives to jailing drug violators because they are part of the community and members of families – some 85 percent of parolees are parents, he noted.  The Redlands Police Department, where he served as chief, trained its officers to deal with members of the community who needed help in finding treatment or diversion programs in order to stay with their families.

The biggest problem most communities have in dealing with drug offenders is the huge disconnect between police, the courts, the correctional system, probation departments and others in the process, Bueermann said. The “system” is just a collection of parts – it is urgent to find ways to convince the various stake-holders to work together and focus on the policies that will help drug offenders avoid a cycle of incarceration and release.

While he was Chief in Redlands, Bueermann developed a holistic approach to public safety that consolidated housing and recreational services with the police department, and focused the programs on research-driven methods of risk and protective factors in adolescent problem prevention. The program was named one of the nation’s 25 most innovative programs in 2000 by the Harvard Kennedy School.

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