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DWI rehabilitation expansion proposed

Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners Chairman Doug Huebsch of Perham is among those who would like to see a county DWI rehabilitation program, currently referred to as the DWI Court, expanded to also assist those with drug and mental health issues.

"A name change from DWI Court to something else seems to be in order," Huebsch said. "The key word is rehabilitation."

His comments followed a report to the county board by DWI Court rehabilitation program coordinator Tria Mann.

She and staff members reviewed the program with county board members and provided program statistics from 2008 through 2017.

"Treatment courts are the most successful justice program for reducing addiction, crime and recidivism while saving taxpayer dollars," Mann said.

Partners include law enforcement, probation, County Human Services, District Court and treatment providers.

County Attorney Michelle Eldien indicated that a hybrid treatment court would provide the most flexibility to treat addictions (alcohol and/or drugs) and mental health issues.

"It's noteworthy that Wadena County has expressed a desire to join with Otter Tail County in a hybrid treatment court program," Huebsch said.

Commissioners advised Mann to apply for grants to expand the program and meet with the county's Budget/Finance Committee in August.

John Lindquist, county commissioner from Dalton, said it's important to treat the family as a whole when it comes to rehabilitation for alcohol, drugs and mental health.

"We already work with families but of course can always look for better ways of doing this," Mann said, "so we agree with Commissioner Lindquist 100 percent."

Keys to success for the person in the DWI Court program include:

• Having a "never give up" attitude

• Examining past errors

• Making amends for those errors

• Learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior.

• Helping others who suffer the same alcoholism, addictions or compulsions.

"The goal of the DWI Court program is to have people regain their places as productive members of society," said Mann.

County Sheriff Barry Fitzgibbons said the DWI Court "gives people the tools to be successful."

The five members of the county board proclaimed May as Drug Court Treatment Month.

Notes County Board Chairman Huebsch:

"Through this proclamation we as the county board of commissioners recognize the significant contributions the Otter Tail County DWI Court and rehabilitation program has made over the past several years. This reflects reducing substance abuse, crime, and recidivism while saving valuable resources."