BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is giving $1.5 million to Bay County to fight one of the biggest threats to our local community.
Bay County Commissioners approved the FDLE grant on Tuesday so the Bay County Sheriff’s Office can expand its substance abuse treatment program at the Bay County Jail.
Currently, there’s about 60 beds in the program. They’re hoping to add anywhere from another 40 to 60 beds.
“We’re already paying for their room and board, we’ve got a captive audience and they don’t have access to drugs in there and they’re in a detoxed state so it’s the perfect atmosphere to try to help them,” Bay County Sheriff, Tommy Ford, said.
Commissioner Doug Moore said the new dormitories would house inmates that aren’t as violent or are there for minor offenses.
“It’ll get them out of general population and into something that is good at trying to reduce recidivism and giving them a program, giving them a process to be able to improve,” Moore said.
Not only do they plan on using the grant from FDLE, they’re also hoping to use money awarded from Attorney General Ashley Moody’s opioid settlement.
“We’re looking at other avenues and other resources so it’s phenomenal to me that the sheriff and his team are getting in front of this, they’re thinking outside the box, they’re getting creative to serve the citizens of the county,” Moore said.
State Representative, Jay Trumbull, helped Bay County secure the funding for the program’s expansion.
“Opioids plague our communities across the state of Florida, really northwest Florida,” Trumbull said. “But I felt like this was a really wonderful opportunity for the community to step up.”
Officials said they are expecting another $1.5 million from the opioid settlement.
The project will move into the design phase in the next six weeks with construction beginning in about a year.