President Obama's top drug policy advisor is in Roanoke on Wednesday to announce national reforms aimed at lowering a growing heroin problem.
Michael Botticelli says the city of Roanoke is leading the way. The policy classifies America's drug problem as being as much about public health as it is law enforcement.
The Drug Market Initiative in the Hurt Park area of Roanoke is Director Botticelli's shining example of making drugs a community problem.
The initiative essentially allows non-violent, first-time drug offenders to get a second chance and empowers communities to control their drug problems -- much like Hurt Park.
Local law enforcement, state government officials, federal prosecutors and mental professionals were at the announcement Wednesday at Blue Ridge Behavioral Health in Roanoke.
Director Botticelli said these groups working together will help with intervention and to get smarter on crime.
The policy emphasizes a combination of mental health care and enforcement, which is why the mental health professionals play as critical role as government and police.
“I think what we're really trying to do is look at science and evidence, really working in concert with our public safety folks to say a couple things: Addiction is a disease, and so we know addiction is a disease so we need to base policy on that framework,” Botticelli said.
Tune in Wednesday night for more on this story.