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Chino Police Chief: ‘Supply-side’ drug enforcement not working. Looking for better alternatives

MATForce Executive Director Merilee Fowler told an audience at a community meeting that 30 percent of juvenile drug users reported that they did drugs “to deal with stress.”
Photo by Scott Orr.

MATForce Executive Director Merilee Fowler told an audience at a community meeting that 30 percent of juvenile drug users reported that they did drugs “to deal with stress.”

CHINO VALLEY – Police Chief Chuck Wynn told a community meeting on Monday, April 18, that the way society is addressing the problem of drug addiction will not solve it and new ideas are needed.

Wynn spoke at a MATForce “Community Conversation” held at the Chino Valley Family Church, and the topic was preventing drug problems.

“What we’re doing now isn’t really working,” Wynn said. “We’re trying to deal with the supply side, and it’s kind of like trying to stick a finger into a dike that’s crumbling.”

He called what police do now “supply-side” enforcement, and said, “To tell you that we’re going to be able solve the problem from the supply side only — it isn’t going to happen.”

Wynn said the way to stop the illegal drug epidemic is much more difficult than simply arresting dealers, the assorted transporters, and others in the industry.

“We have to stop creating new customers … like any other product, if there’s not enough demand, those folks will look for another product to sell. And, realistically, that’s the only way you’re going to see a serious dent made in this problem,” he said.

MATForce Executive Director Merilee Fowler laid out the statistics for the audience:

• More teens say they’re regular marijuana smokers than cigarette smokers in Yavapai County;

• 31 percent of boys and 16 percent of girls surveyed in Chino Valley said they used illegal drugs;

• One of the major reasons they gave for the drug use – over 30 percent – was “to deal with stress.”

“In Yavapai County, we are significantly above the state average in almost every substance” abused by youth, Fowler said, although the county’s average for abuse of prescription pain killer was lower than the state’s average.

She said that a big reason why some kids don’t use drugs is that they know their parents don’t approve.

“When they know that, as a parent, you disapprove, they’re going to be a lot less likely to use those substances.”

On the other hand, she said, marijuana use is on the rise because “kids don’t think it can hurt them.

“Over 50 percent of the kids, if you ask them, ‘Is there harm in regular use of marijuana?’ … say there is no harm in the regular use of marijuana.”

But, she said, “there’s a lot of harm, but kids don’t believe that,” which is why MATForce focuses on ways to stop marijuana use.

Another potentially deadly drug that’s popular to abuse is heroin, an opiate, which is generally a step up from prescription opiates – painkillers.

“In 2012, in Yavapai County, we had two deaths from heroin,” she said, “and 10 deaths in 2015.”

Fowler said that one of the plans in the works is an “overdose fatality review board,” which would try to find commonalities between victims to see if any similar situations exist.

Also on the horizon is a new MATForce education and prevention campaign, titled “Stand with me and be drug free,” she added.

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