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Proposed Sobering Center Presentation Public Safety Committee February 28, 2012. Background Information. City jail operations cost $25 million per year An estimated $4-6 million is attributed to public intoxication cases

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Presentation Transcript

Proposed Sobering Center


Public Safety Committee

February 28, 2012

Background information
Background Information

  • City jail operations cost $25 million per year

    • An estimated $4-6 million is attributed to public intoxication cases

  • Incarcerating individuals whose only criminal behavior is public intoxication diverts law enforcement from more serious or life threatening crimes.

  • Intoxicated individuals often pose a hazard to themselves as well as to the general public.

  • Best practices elsewhere suggest a more cost effective/long term option approach.

Goals of sobering center
Goals of Sobering Center

  • Provide an alternative to jail

  • Provide triage, observation and necessary outpatient services to manage intoxication

  • Provide opportunities for long term treatment by linking detainees to appropriate social service agencies

Effects of the sobering center
Effects of the Sobering Center

  • HPD field personnel will use less time processing this target population.

  • The time savings will allow HPD field personnel to return to their assigned neighborhoods to address more serious crime and disorder problems.

  • Will increase holding capacity in the city jail for more serious criminals.

Operational details
Operational Details

  • Officer transports person to the Sobering Center – rather than taking them to jail; judgment by officer on suitability for the Center

  • Officer completes a one page form (approximately 10 minutes) and returns to duty; no arrest record will be made

  • Person is identified, logged in and subjected to a health screen (similar to what is currently done in the city jail)

  • Person is assigned to a “bed” with males and females separated

  • Person is observed by staff until sober (minimum 4 hours) determined on case by case status

  • When sober, the person will meet with a counselor to discuss how to address affliction(s) – link to social service agencies

  • When sober, person without warrants is discharged

  • When sober, person with city warrants has the option to use video arraignment (refuses option, goes to jail) then discharged

Proposed sobering center location
Proposed Sobering Center Location

  • A large number of potential city-wide sites were considered based on:

    • Appropriate neighborhood

    • Accessibility for HPD and other police agencies

    • Recognized need to be near HPD Mental Health Unit

    • Availability of social services

  • Houston acquired information from the following agencies:

    San Antonio “Public Safety Center”

    San Diego


    Colorado Springs

    Portland, Oregon

Proposed site star of hope facility north downtown private public partnership
Proposed SiteStar of Hope Facility – North Downtown Private/Public Partnership

Proposed sobering center concept
Proposed Sobering Center Concept

  • A 10-year lease with the Star of Hope (SOH) with two 5-year options to extend:

    • Estimated costs for lease, utilities and staff of $1.5m/annually to be in the FY 13 budget

    • SOH will build out existing facility utilizing $3m of available Public Safety Bond funds based on City approval of design

    • City will monitor construction process and expenditures

    • HPD’s Mental Health Unit will co-locate on second floor of facility

    • Lease will be assigned to a Public/Private Partnership

  • Center will be operated as a secular Public/Private Partnership under a service contract:

    • Service contract will be signed by thePublic/Private Partnership and the City of Houston

    • HPD, Health and Human Services and HFD will provide city services at the site

  • Public private partnership
    Public/Private Partnership

    • City Council authorizes the creation of a Public/Private Partnership in the form of a “Local Government Corporation” (LGC) for the Sobering Center

      • The mission of the LGC as a Public/Private Partnership will focus on short term treatment and intervention opportunities professionally delivered

    • The LGC Board will be comprised of 5 members, including 4 directors and a Chair

      • 2 City of Houston appointees

      • 2 SOH appointees

      • Chair – to be selected by 4 Board Members

    • All 5 appointees will be nominated by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council

    • A 501(c) (3) foundation will also be created to aid in future fundraising for operations and possible future expansion

    Lgc service contract
    LGC Service Contract

    • The LGC Executive Director will be the key manager, reporting directly to

    • the LGC Board and will be responsible for all Sobering Center personnel and

    • operations of this secular facility

    • The facility will require health screening for entering detainees and the Health

    • and Human Services Department will provide health screeners - which is done in

    • jail today

    • LGC will acquire liability insurance, directors and officer insurance and other

    • insurance as appropriate

    • LGC will contract with SOH for lead referral services (SOH has offered a

    • counselor at no cost)

      • LGC will facilitate connections with other allied social service providers

      • and invite their participation

    Steps to be taken
    Steps to be Taken

    • March 7 – Advance funding request to complete construction drawings including cost estimates for planning and detailing capital improvements on City Council agenda

    • End of April or earlier

      • Facility lease

      • Documents to create the Public/Private Partnership (LGC)

      • Operating agreement between the City and the Partnership to include staffing and other procedural agreements and budget basis.


    • The availability of and ready access to ongoing community-based outpatient substance abuse services is a potential cost reduction and productivity improvement step for the City.

    • The activities of the Sobering Center are fully consistent with Medical Professionals definition of the treatment of addiction as a disease.

    • Sobering Centers in other cities have proven to be time savers for patrol officers, which allows them to quickly return to their assigned neighborhoods.

    • With a successful link to social service agencies, there will be fewer public intoxication related calls requiring officer intervention – hence more time they can direct to other more pressing crime and disorder issues.