Friday, April 27, 2012

Police Chief Chat

Drug watch: The Street Crimes Unit conducted a traffic stop at one of the local parks last night which resulted in the seizure of marijuana and paraphernalia to be used in conjunction with bath salts or heroin. All three occupants of the vehicle were minors. One of the occupants had just completed a stay at a rehab facility. The owner of the contraband was released to his mother's custody.

Today we received a tip from a citizen of a person dealing drugs in Ber Juan Park, we responded to the scene. As the suspect saw us coming he threw the drugs into the grass. Suspect was arrested and taken to jail. Great job to the concerned citizen for keeping your eyes open and reporting the activity, we have to work together to beat this problem in our community!

This past week the Rolla Police Department handled 663 calls for service. Of these calls there were: 23 arrests, 14 alarm calls, 28 accidents, 24 traffic complaints, 13 check the well being requests, 79 traffic stops, 16 disturbance calls (including domestics), 21 suspicious nature complaints, 12 assists of other agency requests, 11 field interviews, 9 escorts, 3 leave without paying complaints, 42 security checks, 4 loitering complaints, 27 animal control complaints and 1 trespassing complaint. This call total is up 12 calls from last week and yes, another busy week!
We had a busy week in addition to our normal call total in that we held our first Town Hall Meeting on Tuesday, April 24, 2012. The topic of discussion was the re-introduction of Heroin to our community. Myself and members of our Street Crimes Unit discussed the dangers of this drug and the addiction, and also discussed danger signs for parents to watch for The Heroin Town Hall meeting was last night and it was a full house. Here are some of my notes I used during the presentation: Good evening and thank you for attending. I’m sorry we have to have a meeting like this in our community, but the problem is here. We have been dealing with the Heroin problem for three or four years now. I don’t have an exact number on heroin overdoses but they are in the hundreds and heroin deaths total twenty or more in the last few years.

Probably the most important thing we can do right now is help parents and adults understand what is going on so that they can be more alert to the possibility of their own child being exposed to Heroin or even using it. We also have to educate those at risk so they will understand that this is a drug that not only kills you but is so addictive that your whole life will be consumed with getting the next fix and you will sell your soul to get it. Why is the heroin epidemic growing? I don’t have all the answers but here are a few. Teenagers are experimenting with pain killer drugs from their family medicine cabinets. This is well documented across the nation, and to put it bluntly, today’s young Percocet, Vicodin and OxyContin users are becoming tomorrow’s heroin junkies, and the demand for those drugs has spawned addicts that don’t care about family, jobs or their own life, they want their fix. The will steal, burglarize and prostitute themselves to get it.

On the street, painkillers such as OxyContin are known to produce a similar high to heroin. The prescription painkillers can be more expensive than heroin, also once the addict gains a tolerance to the pills he tends to turn to heroin. Thus, painkillers have become gateway drugs to heroin, and causing an increase in heroin abuse nationwide. A new study explains why people use heroin, what leads them to try it, and attempts to paint a picture of a heroin user. The 10-month study of students, parents and heroin users concluded that most people have little knowledge about heroin when they first use it, and one-third of those surveyed starting using it after being addicted to or misusing prescription pain pills such as OxyContin or Vicodin.

The study also found that more than 75 percent of respondents had a concurrent mental health condition, such as depression, ADHD or bipolar disorder, and used heroin to self-medicate. Two-thirds of those surveyed displayed “sensation-seeking behaviors,” thrill seekers! The study also found that the average age of first use is 18. They stated that our kids are so sophisticated now, but also so stressed out. Students suffering from depression and anxiety are at high risk for drug use, and suicide rates nationwide are climbing. The Rolla Police Department is going to shift to more aggressive tactics against heroin. We are going to treat every overdose scene like a crime scene. We are going to treat every overdose as a potential homicide with Heroin as the bullet. We will seek murder charges against suspected dealers and push for long prison sentences.

Few places have been as devastated as the St. Louis area, where the city and county reported 116 heroin deaths in 2010 and 200 last year. I have been two six overdoses in the last month, one death and two others would have been dead if they would not have received prompt emergency treatment. Heroin is here and it is devastating. We have started two units at the Rolla Police Department to combat this growing problem with the Narcotics Unit and the St Crimes Unit. In addition, we have partnered with Phelps County Sheriff Rick Lisenbe and his agency, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the South Central Drug Task Force in an effort to combat the heroin and drug problem and to keep the serious drug criminals from moving to our community.

On Thursday, April 26, 2012 from 4-8 p.m. our own Behind the Badge organization teamed with McDonald’s Restaurant to host the first “McBadge Night” at McDonalds. Behind the Badge is a charitable organization comprised of friends and spouses of Rolla Police Department employees who have joined together to raise funds to support the Rolla Police Department and other charitable organizations in the community. Our own “Constable on Patrol” was on hand to ensure that McDonald’s infamous “Hamburglar” was unsuccessful in nabbing patrons food. My wife D’ettra and I were present along with patrol officers, staff members, Communications and VIPS personnel to “back up” the Constable on Patrol and the McDonald’s staff. Thanks to those who came out for dinner and thanks to the McDonald’s organization for allowing us to take part in the McBadge Night fundraiser.

Have a great week!

Chief Mark Kearse

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