Arlington County Launches Operation Safe Station

Published on April 02, 2019

ARLINGTON, Va. — Arlington County launches Operation Safe Station to provide a designated safe environment for individuals seeking treatment for substance abuse disorders. Any time - day or night - when an individual decides or gathers the courage to seek help for substance abuse, they can report to the Office of the Magistrate and start their path to recovery.

Operation Safe Station is a multidisciplinary effort designed to reduce the dangerous impacts of opioids and other drugs in our community and to promote treatment options. The Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney, the Police Department, the Sheriff's Office and the Department of Human Services have collaborated to develop a process by which individuals who seek help with their drug use can self-report and receive services, without fear of prosecution and incarceration.

"Operation Safe Station is Arlington's effort to help combat the relentless grip of opioid and substance abuse issues plaguing our community," said Theo Stamos, Commonwealth's Attorney. "Forgoing a prosecution and connecting individuals to treatment professionals is a first step in fighting this pernicious epidemic."

"Now more than ever, we must embrace new strategies to address the growing opioid and substance abuse epidemic impacting our community" said M. Jay Farr, Chief of Police. "Operation Safe Station provides Arlington County with a unique opportunity to ensure that when someone battling substance abuse reaches out for help, we're there to answer the call and connect them with treatment options."

"Removing barriers to treatment and related services has been proven to help communities assist people struggling with substance use," said Anita Friedman, Department of Human Services Director. "Operation Safe Station, along with other new initiatives like Same Day Access, Office-Based Opioid Treatment (OBOT), Narcan training for community members, and our jail-based programs are really making a difference in connecting people with the services they need, when they need them. This is another important step forward in Arlington's ongoing response to the opioid crisis."

"We must continue to find new ways to reach out to individuals in the community that are struggling with addiction," said Beth Arthur, Sheriff. "The launch of Operation Safe Station allows those dealing with substance abuse disorders a safe place to seek treatment."
Operation Safe Station Eligibility

Individuals who wish to participate in the Operation Safe Station program must meet the below listed eligibility criteria:

  • The participant must not have outstanding arrest warrants.

  • The participant is willing to submit to a search of his or her person and belongings.

  • The participant has no convictions for manufacturing, giving, selling, distributing or possessing with intent to manufacture, give, sell or distribute a controlled substance or an imitation controlled substance.

  • A participant under age 18 must have a parent or guardian present and consenting.

  • There is no reasonable belief, as determined by the assisting police officers, that the participant, based on the participant's present condition, could seriously harm a peer specialist or other service provider.

  • The participant has not previously utilized this program.

  • The participant agrees to follow the treatment recommendations of the peer specialist.

  • The participant must complete and sign the Participation Agreement.


Any person not meeting the above eligibility requirements is at risk for arrest and prosecution if determined to be in violation of the law.

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Initiating Participation

Any person who meets the eligibility criteria may self-report to the Office of the Magistrate for Arlington County to surrender controlled substances and paraphernalia and initiate participation in Operation Safe Station. Officers will properly dispose of controlled substances and/or drug paraphernalia. Participants will not be charged with a crime and will not be jailed.

Office of the Magistrate
2020 15th Street N.
Arlington, Va. 22209
Treatment Program

All treatment will be coordinated through the Department of Human Services and the Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative team of peers, who are on-call to respond and help individuals when they report to the Office of the Magistrate. Participants in the Operation Safe Station program will be referred to support groups, outpatient office based opioid treatment programs, Methadone programs, and when appropriate, residential treatment.

READ MORE: Controlled Substance Treatment Resources in Arlington
Program Benefits

The Operation Safe Station program acknowledges that addressing substance abuse in our community extends far beyond prosecution for drug-related offenses. In recognizing this, the expansion of treatment and recovery resources and development of community education programs continues to be a priority in Arlington County. This program will increase the accessibility of treatment programs to individuals in our community who wish to seek help, a critical step in reducing the impacts on users of controlled substances, as well as those who interact with them in the community.
Program Resources and Documents