Tulsa Sobering Center Celebrates First Year

Courtesy photo
SUCCESSFUL TEAM: Celebrating the successful first year of the Tulsa Sobering Center are, from left, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan, Michelle Hardesty, 12&12 Counselor Amy Hardy, Mayor G.T. Bynum, Tulsa Deputy Chief of Police Jonathan Brooks, Tulsa City Councilors Jeannie Cue and Cass Fahler and 12&12 CEO Bryan Day.

When data showed public intoxication was the most prevalent charge for frequent offenders in Tulsa, I knew we had to do something. That’s why in 2016, Tulsa Deputy Police Chief Jonathan Brooks and then City Councilor Karen Gilbert and I embarked on a journey to Oklahoma City to research a Public Inebriate Alternative (PIA), otherwise known as a “drunk tank”.
Through extensive research and help from community partners like 12&12, a leader in addiction recovery and treatment, and a grant from the Hardesty Foundation, we were able to open Tulsa Sobering Center in May 2018. Its measurable goal was to offer true jail diversion with a restorative approach, aiming to save the City and citizens money, conserve officer time, and help decrease the tendency for individuals to reoffend.
At the discretion of the Tulsa Police Department, adults detained for public intoxication, who have not committed any other crimes, are taken to the Tulsa Sobering Center for a 10-hour period to “sleep it off” in a safe clean environment. During their stay, participants are provided with food, a place to rest and at their discretion, information about and access to counseling and rehabilitation programs for substance abuse. At the end of the holding period, adults are released from Tulsa Sobering Center without criminal charges, court dates or a record of arrest.
A year later, I’m extremely pleased to say Tulsa Sobering Center has been a huge success. From May 2018 – May 2019, 767 people utilized the facility, all of whom would have otherwise gone to jail.
In its first year, Tulsa Sobering Center saved nearly 3,000 hours of officer time, getting police back to patrols more quickly. Police officers who used Tulsa Sobering Center averaged a 10-minute return to service time compared to previous booking times that took hours.
The data shows the Sobering Center connected individuals to life-saving treatment. Of the 767 who visited the facility, 73 entered the medically-supervised detoxification program at 12&12, and upon completion, 32 of the 73 went into treatment at 12&12.
With $250,000 of yearly City funding, we’re already seeing a return on our investment. Tulsa Sobering Center saved the citizens of Tulsa hundreds of thousands of dollars in jailing and policing expenses in its first year alone.
The reason for Sobering Center’s success was a combination of the efforts from Tulsa Police and our community partners. Without the collaborative effort and common vision, none of this would have been possible.
The program works around the clock, 365 days a year, seven days a week, to help build a safer city for all Tulsans. It’s a true community resource, a win-win for everyone, and an example of what we can accomplish when common sense programs are put into action that focus on the underlying sources of crime. Tulsa Sobering Center has proven it’s helping the City be more fiscally responsible with its public safety funding while taking a unique approach to address mental health and addiction in our community.