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Drugs put community at risk

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Group works to raise awareness of hazards

By Kate Darnell

Perhaps I was totally naive, because I used to think that drug use didn’t affect me.

I didn’t do drugs. It didn’t harm my life, so why should I care?

As a reporter at The Cynthiana Democrat, I began to realize that drug use is prominent in this community, and its death grip impacts more than just those injecting the narcotics.

On the front page of last week’s paper, Becky Barnes reported that six individuals had been charged with drug-related offenses, a testament to the fact that drugs are present in our small town.

At a town hall meeting earlier this month, Kentucky State Police Det. Brett Kirkland told a room of 100 citizens that six groups from Harrison County are traveling to Florida to obtain prescription pills and bringing them back to sell in our community.

Kirkland told the audience at the meeting that the strong desire for drugs leads to other criminal activity.

“Well over 50 percent of crimes that come through our office are drug related,” said Harrison County Sheriff’s Det. Paul Olin.

Olin said he has been working on one case with Cynthiana Police Officer Alan Judy that will result in over a dozen felony charges, all drug related.

Olin said the accused admitted that all of the crimes he committed were executed in an attempt to obtain pills.

It’s an attempt that affects all of us, Olin said.

“You’ve got people that have absolutely nothing to do with drugs, but they are the ones that get their property taken,” said Olin.

Olin said those individuals wanting prescription medication will often steal tools or other items without serial numbers, which are easily sold at pawn shops.

And sometimes, Olin said, homes are burglarized for exactly what was craved - pills.

Kirkland said the craving for drugs often leads to death.

“Is there anyone in this room that hasn’t heard or doesn’t know of someone in your community that has overdosed from pills?” Kirkland asked at the town hall meeting.

Not one hand raised.

Harrison County Sheriff’s Department Det. Lance Hutchison said overdose numbers have become so common among those involved with prescription pills, the department has stopped counting.

Drugs have the ability to destroy a community, break relationships, and completely control the lives of those individuals who feast on them.

Champions for a Drug Free Harrison County is an organization in our county working to mobilize and empower our community to address its own violence, alcohol, tobacco and other drug problems.

With the leadership of co-chairs Karen Adams and Judge Executive Alex Barnett, Champions is a way for the community to stand up and fight the invasion of drugs in Harrison County.

Champions is an opportunity for local citizens to communicate with law enforcement agencies to assist in the process of cleaning our streets.

“The Champions program is really doing something in a positive nature against drugs in our community,” said Olin.

Champions’ mission includes informing the community (including the youth) about the affects of drugs, planning activities and fundraisers to spread Champions’ word, working to assist law enforcement, and demonstrating to the community that a drug-free life is healthy.

And Champions is working to spread its drug-free message...

In the summer, Champions will sponsor Friday Night Flicks at the Handy Farm, free to the public.

You will see the blue-shirted Champions’ members volunteering at upcoming community events.

Champions signs and logos are being placed around the county - at businesses, houses and on car windows.

Under Champions’ direction, a Neighborhood Watch program is developing and Harrison County residents may soon benefit from a 411 service that will allow citizens to contact the police or sheriff’s department through text messaging and the Internet.

“Each person is affected by substance abuse,” Adams said at Champions’ April meeting. “Everyone is affected.”

And while Adams said Champions’ will not eliminate all traces of drug use in Harrison County, Champions will at least make it difficult for drug dealers to live and deal here.

“We can’t bury our heads in the sand, and we’re not,” said Adams.

Champions will meet next on May 11 at 5:30 p.m. at the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department.