Stop, Triage, Engage, Educate and Rehabilitate (STEER)

A police-led drug diversion program in Maryland that connects drug users to treatment

Stop, Triage, Engage, Educate and Rehabilitate (STEER) is a pre-booking law enforcement and drug treatment linkage program implemented in Montgomery County, Maryland that aims to provide rapid identification, deflection, and access to treatment for drug-involved individuals as an alternative to conventional arrest. Individuals are assigned a care-coordinator, co-located at the police department, who focuses on rapid treatment access, retention, motivation, engagement and completion, as well as conducts a full clinical assessment and referral. STEER is designed for substance using individuals with a low or moderate crime risk.  

Police either approach candidates for STEER at the scene of a chargeable non-violent offense or through the result of an overdose, visit to the emergency department, or other on-the-street knowledge. Police officers and outreach workers use validated risk screening tools to identify those suitable for deflection.

STEER began in 2016 and is a joint initiative of the Montgomery County Police Department, the Police Executive Research Forum, several Maryland treatment centers, and the Center for Health and Justice at TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities). More information on the program can be found in this overview and in this program spotlight


At least 50% of those who started treatment are still active in treatment after 30 days.

Continuum of Care
Type of Evidence
Report with evaluation
Response Approach
Early Intervention
Post-overdose response

Evidence of Program Effectiveness

This program is being formally evaluated by George Mason University. Preliminary evidence is available: 

"Of the 133 people referred to STEER, 55 (41%) were assessed and 27 of those assessed (49%) agreed to participate in treatment. The sample consists of 34 women and 99 men; 21 African-American and 112 Caucasian. Nineteen (19) are Hispanics. The majority of criminal charges are for drinking in public, intoxication, and possession of drugs. At least 50% of those who started treatment are still active in treatment after 30 days...preliminary findings are that the outreach component is achieving gains in accessing individuals that need treatment, in assisting individuals to initiate treatment, and in engaging in treatment for at least one month."