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CHICAGO The Chicago Department of Public Health alongside Chicago police announced an expansion of the city’s Narcotics Arrest Diversion program to cover all of Chicago by the end of 2021.

The program began in 2018 in the 11th District before being expanded to 11 more districts since then. City officials hope to implement the program in all 22 districts by year’s end.

The program is designed to divert people who have substance abuse problems away from the criminal justice system and towards rehabilitation instead.

Those arrested have to meet certain criteria to qualify for the program, but they are offered a treatment option in lieu of criminal charges.

The 60624 ZIP code is within the 11th District and has seen the highest number of opioid-related deaths since the start of 2018, with 322 deaths.

City officials said that more than 700 people who would have otherwise been shuffled into the justice system have been able to access help through the program.

“The expansion is one of the ways we are working with CPD. When people are interacting with the justice system, if their primary issue is substance abuse, we can keep resources focused on violent crime,” CDPH Commissioner Dr. Alison Arwady said.

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