UT police officer assists with drug prevention program

December 11, 2015 | News, UToday
By Lindsay Mahaney

When offered a new opportunity to help people, a University of Toledo police officer jumped at the chance.

UT Police Lt. Tressa Johnson was recruited to the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office Drug Addiction Response Team (DART). The DART program sends specially trained police officers into hospitals to work with drug addicts to find them appropriate, long-term treatment while diverting them away from the criminal justice system.



When asked her first reaction to her new position, Johnson said: “I was pretty excited because it was different; it’s not what we do in law enforcement at all.”

As a member of UT’s force for 17 years and with her counseling background, Johnson said she believes she’s a good fit for the program.

“As far as law enforcement goes, I believe in my role as a law enforcement officer, but I also have the victim-centered side, too,” Johnson said. “At the same time, as a law enforcement officer, we have the opportunity to help others. The goal of DART is to get the addict into treatment and the sellers and the drugs off the street.”

A UT alumna, she received a master’s degree in counseling in 2004 and became a licensed professional counselor in Ohio two years later.

Johnson’s new role will be to assist the addicts seeking help in the University campus area by getting them to appointments, scheduling follow-ups, and meeting with their counselors and specialists.

“We facilitate them, help them, guide them in their want for change at the time — that’s really what we’re trying to do,” she said.

Johnson also continues her work as an officer on the University’s campus during the school year. And that’s a position she said she loves.

“Law enforcement on a college campus is different than law enforcement in the field in the metropolitan area because we focus on the students,” she said. “Our goal is to educate our students, get to know our students, interact with our students, and our students get to know us. It’s really nice.”

For more information on DART, contact Johnson at tressa.johnson@utoledo.edu.

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