Shakopee Police Chief Jeff Tate is one of 11 public safety officers to join the newly created Public Safety Council for the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative.

PAARI’s work centers around “providing training, strategic guidance, support and resources to help law enforcement agencies nationwide create nonarrest pathways to treatment and recovery,” according to the organization’s website.

“The whole premise here is we’ve got to find better ways to deal with this issue that is impacting every community,” Tate said. “Addiction is a serious issue … and PAARI’s trying to have that conversation, shine a spotlight on the issue and generate a more impactful conversation.”

PAARI has now spread nationally to a network consisting of over 700 police departments in 40 states. The Shakopee Police Department was the first department in Minnesota to join PAARI, under Tate’s lead.

Tate said he first got involved with PAARI around six years ago and was recently asked by the organization to join the council.

“I was extremely honored when they asked me to be a part of this advisory council. I think it says a lot that they want representation from throughout the United States,” he said.

Other officers come from Wisconsin, Connecticut, Washington, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and South Carolina.

This council, Tate said, will work in an advisory role to help PAARI drive policy decisions and provide suggestions and expertise alongside other police officers on the council.

“Chief Tate is a national law enforcement leader, and his experience and guidance will be an asset to us as we move into our eighth year as an organization,” PAARI Executive Director Zoe Grover-Scicchitano said in a statement. “We will rely on him and others on the council to inform our policy decisions, program initiatives and advocacy for the field.”

Beyond providing assistance to PAARI through this council, Tate said he is also grateful for the ways in which PAARI and fellow officers’ ideas can be incorporated into his work within the police department and Shakopee as a whole.

“Selfishly, I think that’s going to be something that I’m really looking forward to — taking everybody else’s ideas that are working for them and enhancing what we’re already doing here,” he said.

This includes enhancing the police department’s Recovery Assistance Program, which provides scholarships up to $3,000 toward the cost of drug and alcohol treatment for Shakopee residents.

The department has given out 49 scholarships since the program began around six years ago.

“We continue to try to remove whatever barriers we can so that individuals can get good treatment,” Tate said. “This is an important issue, and anything I can do to help the conversation and initiatives move forward, I’ll do that.”

The council will meet on a quarterly basis, gathering next on June 14. Council members will also spend the next few months reviewing PAARI’s Best Practices Guide, used by police departments to develop an effective diversion program assisting those with substance abuse.