Sobering Center (copy)

The Sobering Center, which opened May 30, 2018, has housed 767 people. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World file

More than 700 people were transported to the Tulsa Sobering Center during its first year of operation, according to figures provided by the city.

The facility was built in the Hardesty Wing of 12&12 addiction recovery center, 6333 E. Skelly Drive. It opened in late May 2018 to provide an alternative to incarceration for individuals facing a charge of public intoxication.

Of the 767 people brought to the Sobering Center between May 30, 2018, and May 31, 2019, 47 made the trip twice.

Deputy Police Chief Jonathan Brooks said he was encouraged by the first-year results.

“With the Sobering Center, we are being more strategic and efficient with officer time and public safety funding while building partnerships that lead to enhanced response and care for Tulsans through our community policing efforts,” Brooks said.

The city, led by Brooks, worked to create the center as a means of addressing the underlying issues that cause a person to abuse alcohol or drugs. The program also keeps individuals who have made a one-time mistake out of the judicial system and gets police officers back on the streets more quickly.

Individuals brought to the Sobering Center by police have the option of receiving treatment at 12&12. Seventy-three people went into 12&12’s detox center in the program’s first year, and 32 of them received treatment.

The Sobering Center is a partnership between the city and 12&12. The program is staffed by 12&12 employees, with the city providing $250,000 a year for operations.

Mayor G.T. Bynum called the center a key resource for police officers, the municipal court and the city as a whole.

“This first year in operation shows what we can accomplish when we put common-sense programs in place that focus on underlying causes of crime: better outcomes for residents, better use of taxpayer dollars, and a safer city for us all,” Bynum said.

The busiest day of the week at the Sobering Center is typically Saturday, city officials said, with May 2019 the busiest month so far.

The Sobering Center operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The facility has 25 cots for men and 17 cots for women. Individuals brought to the center by police must stay at least 10 hours but no more than 12.

Those brought to the center are not allowed to leave on foot. Individuals without transportation are given a taxi token, and those without a home are directed to shelters.

In the program’s first year, 497 people, or 65% of those brought to the center, left by cab, with the remainder picked up by friends or family.

The Sobering Center is only for public intoxication. Individuals arrested for driving under the influence or who face separate charges in addition to public intoxication are taken to jail.

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Kevin Canfield


Twitter: @aWorldofKC

Staff Writer

Kevin Canfield has covered local government in Tulsa for nearly two decades. He also has reported on downtown development, zoning and community planning.

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