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Strategies would help against drug abuse

Sep. 28, 2012 @ 12:25 AM

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one of a series of columns written by candidates in contested races in the Nov. 6 general election.

Rampant drug use is, in no doubt, one of the most critical issues currently plaguing the citizens of Putnam County. One could simply turn on the nightly news or read the daily newspaper any given day and almost certainly see a story outlining a new drug case in Putnam County. This can also be seen when observing the fact that there has been a 30 percent increase in jail population, home confinement and day report in the last year alone. Therefore, if elected sheriff of Putnam County, addressing this grotesque problem will certainly be one of my top priorities.

Many people have the belief that such "drug crimes" have absolutely no effect on them; this is simply untrue. Statistics show that about 85 percent of all crimes committed in the United States can be linked to some sort of substance abuse. That being said, in response to "clean" individuals who falsely believe that drug abuse has no effect on them, the widespread substance abuse currently occurring in Putnam County is, among many other things, increasing the number of tax dollars you are spending (e.g. paying for the confinement of individuals who commit such crimes) and actually placing you at a greater risk of becoming a victim of a crime.

For example, going off the statistic presented above, a perpetrator committing a burglary is most likely (85 percent) to be under the influence of some sort of illegal drug, and therefore will most likely utilize the theft in order to purchase more drugs. This creates a sort of "vicious cycle," meaning the crimes committed by the drug abusers actually fuels their dangerous addictions, ultimately leading to them committing further (and possibly more dangerous) crimes. Henceforth, the greater the drug abuse in an area, the more crimes that will be committed against innocent individuals.

I have developed an intricate plan to combat this abhorrent issue of substance abuse in Putnam County, should I be elected sheriff. First, I plan to increase the Drug Task Force Officers within the Sheriff's Department. More officers trained to efficiently and effectively handle drug-related offenses will no doubt deter the number of drug-related offenses.

Second, I hope to employ a countywide "take back program" for individuals to properly dispose of their unused and/or unwanted medications. This program will be an annual event that will allow Putnam County citizens to anonymously drop off these unwanted medications at designated sites for disposal by law enforcement officers, no questions asked. Therefore, this program is designed to be proactive by eradicating certain drug offenses, especially those involving prescription medications, before any problem occurs.

Third, enacting K-9 units within the Sheriff's Department is another top priority in my strategy to defeat the rampant drug problem in the county. Aside from assisting officers by quickly detecting substances in various locations, the presence of these units on the police force alone will undoubtedly deter some individuals from using narcotics. Furthermore, these canines also will serve to assist deputies with officer safety situations.

Fourth, should you decide I am the candidate best fit for the position, I plan to publish a drug tip line that will be monitored by a Deputy Sheriff 24/7. This drug tip line will be operated by the Sheriff's Department and will give Putnam County citizens an opportunity to anonymously report any suspicious activity to an officer. Once again, as with my other plans, this too will be a proactive measure that should deter some drug-related offenses before they occur.

Finally, the fifth plan I have to eliminate the Putnam County drug problem is the implementation of Prevention Resource Officers (PROs) within the county's school system. Statistics show that about 52 percent of high school seniors have received prescription narcotics from a relative or a friend at least one time in their lives. These PROs will work to bring down this astronomically high statistic by educating students and parents on the various risks and dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. They will also serve to initiate unannounced K-9 searches for all schools in the county. This is, once again, an example being proactive and deterring certain drug-related offenses before they even occur.

Steve Deweese, a resident of Scott Depot, is a Republican candidate for Putnam County sheriff.

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