Mikayla Hellwich is the Speakers Bureau & Media Relations Director for LEAP. She is moderating the panel at LEPH2021 entitled Holistic Policing Models for Addressing Drug Use in North America.
This presentation is currently scheduled for Tu21 (Day 2: Tuesday 23 March at 4:00 PM – 4:50 PM EST)
North American drug policies and funding priorities limit the availability of evidence-based interventions for problematic drug use, contributing to high rates of substance use disorder and overdose. Police and the criminal justice system are expected to use arrest as the primary deterrent for drug use, a tactic that has strained both community health and safety, while too many elected officials have deprioritized preventative, harm reduction, and health-based treatment options.
Police leaders in the US and Canada have found ways to work within legal, logistical, and cultural boundaries to contribute effective holistic solutions for addressing drug use. Speakers on this panel will emphasize an unmet demand for forward-thinking law enforcement interventions that treat drug use as a health issue, not a criminal problem. Their discussion will center on personal experiences developing, expanding upon, and supporting vital programs that fill critical gaps in North American social infrastructure. Together, these officers have a range of expertise with Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, crisis response teams, community coalitions, overdose prevention centers (aka supervised use sites), and much more.
Speakers will share the scope of their contributions to the overlapping disciplines of public health and safety for people who use drugs, lessons learned, and visions for the future of their departments as well as their countries’ overall approaches to drug use.
Moderator: Mikayla Hellwich, The Law Enforcement Action Partnership (USA)
Speakers: Paul Pazen, Chief of Police, Denver Police Department, Colorado (USA)
Tom Synan, Chief of Police, Newtown Police Department, Ohio (USA)
Conor King, Staff Sergeant, Victoria Police Department, British Columbia (Canada)
Mikayla Hellwich’s work as a public policy and community health advocate began in 2010 at the University of Maryland’s chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. She served SSDP as a chapter leader, alumni association president, mentor, conference presenter, and career coach. She is a recipient of their Outstanding Alumnus in Service to SSDP Award (2017). She is a certified peer drug educator by SSDP’s Just Say Know program. She received a harm reduction and overdose prevention professional development certificate from the Indiana University School of Public Health and is certified in mental health first aid by the National Council for Behavioral Health. Mikayla joined the Law Enforcement Action Partnership Staff in 2014. Today, she oversees LEAP’s activities and presence in the media as the Speakers Bureau & Media Relations Director. She manages virtual and in-person speaking engagements, conference participation, legislative testimonies, op-eds and letters to the editor, media interviews, and social media. She contributes to LEAP’s messaging strategy and has trained dozens of public speakers on how to use the right language to grow support for drug policy, criminal justice, and police reform. Outside her time at LEAP, she is a drug educator and facilitates harm reduction and overdose prevention workshops. In 2020, she formalized this work by founding Drug Education Consulting, LLC, which provides trauma-informed behavioral health education and coaching for people who use drugs and their communities. Mikayla lives in the Washington, DC-Area.
The Law Enforcement Action Partnership is a US-based nonprofit group of police, judges, prosecutors, corrections officials, and federal agents who use their expertise to promote evidence-based public safety solutions. LEAP’s 270+ representatives advance policies and programs that end the War on Drugs, reduce society’s reliance on incarceration, and heal police-community relations. LEAP provides a balanced perspective to the traditional “tough on crime” law enforcement narrative by sending pro-reform law enforcement professionals to legislatures and events and by speaking to the media about the most pressing issues at the intersection of community safety and public health. What began in 2002 as a drug policy reform group has grown into a comprehensive voice of criminal justice reform with hundreds of law enforcement speakers and tens of thousands of supporters — both law enforcement and beyond. LEAP is a driver of more compassionate, ethical policing and a platform for the profession’s future. Since LEAP’s founding in 2002, it has collaborated with hundreds of organizations to educate the public and influence lawmakers to support access to naloxone, syringe access programs, diversion programs, overdose prevention centers, and safe and regulated access to marijuana, police accountability and transparency measures, restorative justice, appropriate uses of police resources, and dozens of prison reforms that reduce the prison population while reducing crime.