Earlier this week, Officer Jermaine Galloway, an internationally recognized instructor on drug trends and alcohol, gave a powerful presentation at the high school concerning the state of how illicit drug use, prescription drug use, alcohol abuse and underage drinking affect our community. His message highlighted that the amount of, quality of and accessibility to both legal and illegal drugs have dramatically increased in recent years, specifically among youth. Through this presentation, he reminded the audience how important it is that we, as parents and caring community members, understand the problem cannot, and will not, go away on its own.
After the presentation, one resident asked if she should call Public Safety should she suspect or is aware of a child or other family member having a problem with substance abuse. I would like to more thoroughly respond to this significant question.
First, our Public Safety officers are very concerned about the safety of all members of the community and desire to assist in a compassionate and appropriate manner. If you’re concerned a loved one has a substance abuse issue, please feel comfortable reaching out to us at any time. Should you feel uncomfortable giving us your name, have questions or are just seeking information about handling a sensitive matter, you may call anonymously and we will assist as best we can.
You may believe contacting Public Safety will lead to a criminal investigation or arrest, but these may not be the best solutions. Depending on the circumstances, an arrest may be necessary. However, I want you to feel comfortable, not fearful, calling us for help, as our goal is to work toward a healthy resolution for the individual and his or her family. As law enforcement officers, we have a variety of tools to resolve situations. Although we sometimes do make arrests, we often recommend professional counseling or referral to other resources, particularly for first-time offenders.
Our very knowledgeable and trained staff also work closely with our public schools. If you aren’t aware, we have three school liaison officers, Mark Linder, Collin Wallace and Kelly Kreiner, who visit each of our schools daily and are always ready to be of assistance.
Whether you are a parent, teacher or concerned community member, it’s important you stay informed about the potency levels of today’s marijuana and other drugs, as well as alcohol-based energy drinks, as they can do serious harm or may even cause death. Recently, Michigan residents voted for the legalization of recreational marijuana. The active ingredient — THC — in marijuana is many times greater than it used to be. Based on the experiences of other states that have legalized recreational marijuana, usage among young people will most likely increase. Even the use of marijuana is now lawful and more socially acceptable, we must be mindful that usage problems will also increase.
I urge you to have open, honest and frank discussions about drug use with your children. Although potentially uncomfortable, these discussions are too important to avoid.
If you notice your child, friend or loved one is exhibiting uncharacteristic changes in behavior, I cannot stress how important it is to address the problem, whether you contact us or seek a medical or mental health professional.
Please understand we live in a very safe community. However, no community is left untouched when it comes to youth using illegal drugs, prescription drugs, marijuana, alcohol, etc., and this issue cannot go unaddressed.
Feel free to contact me or any Public Safety officer with any concerns or questions on this important community issue. We are here to assist our community members and to help ensure the safety of all.
Mark A. HeraldDirector of Public Safety