Suspect in cop killing failed to check in with courts during drug program

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Jim Hoffer has the latest details. (WABC)

Accused cop killer Tyrone Howard was sentenced to a residential drug diversion program, but there weren't enough beds, and so he was back on the streets.

It's a big fall through the cracks for a diversion program that otherwise gets high marks.

The state's Drug Court Diversion Program is effective, but in the scrutiny of the program following the shooting death of an NYPD Officer we are finding out there can be problems.

We've already learned that it's not the kind of program for violent offenders. Now we know that there can be delays to treatment and daily monitoring for lack of rehab beds.

Howard avoided prison last May by agreeing to undergo 18 months of inpatient, residential treatment in a drug rehab facility. But the treatment was delayed because there was no bed available.

Instead, the Court Drug Program required Howard to check-in once a month for drug testing. The first two months he showed up, in September he didn't.

He was gone from authorities until resurfacing this week the prime suspect in the shooting of NYPD Officer Randolph Holder.

"That's unacceptable, unacceptable," said David Schwartz, a former prosecutor.

Former Prosecutor David Schwartz says the failure to have a bed available is an indictment, not of the diversion program, but a lack of commitment to properly fund the program.

A report shows out of more than 4,800 offenders statewide who applied for Drug Diversion, 43% more than 2,000 were admitted. Schwartz wonders how many of them are awaiting treatment and beds.

"These programs are proven to work, we now need to put more money into the system so everybody can have a bed from day one," Schwartz said.

Many, from the police commissioner to the mayor, say Tyrone Howard with his life of crime should have never been in the drug rehab program to begin with.

Friday, the mayor proposed new laws to keep dangerous offenders out of court diversion by giving judges more discretion.

"Because the judge was not required to consider the danger he posed, again, a decision was made that had very costly consequences and Howard was sent to treatment, he didn't show up for treatment," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

But as Eyewitness News confirmed late Friday afternoon, the treatment was delayed because of a shortage of beds and which delayed daily monitoring associated with in-patient residential treatment.

"Obviously he would have been more closely monitored. He would have been treated; maybe this horrible tragedy would not have taken place, that's the cold-hearted facts here," Schwartz said.

The state Division of Criminal Justice says that the re-arrest rate among offenders in drug rehab is about 10% less than re-arrest among those who served their sentence in prison. It is proof these programs work, and they are cheaper.

As for how many others in diversion are awaiting beds, Eyewitness News simply does not know and we waiting for the New York Drug Court to tell us.

Related Topics:
drug treatmentofficer randolph holdernypdofficer killedpolice officer shotthe investigatorsNew York City
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