Pubdate: Fri,  1 Nov 2002
Source: Pueblo Chieftain (CO)
Copyright: 2002 The Star-Journal Publishing Corp.
Author: Peter Roper, The Pueblo Chieftain


Pueblo has been selected as the sixth city in the nation by the federal 
Drug Enforcement Administration to become part of its "Idea" pilot program 
for developing a community-wide strategy for combating illegal drug use.

Pam Brown, a DEA special agent, explained the Integrated Drug Enforcement 
Assistance Program to City Council at its work session Monday night. The 
DEA's decision to select Pueblo means the federal agency intends to help 
local volunteers and agencies develop a strategic plan for reducing drug use.

Brown said that plan could open the door for Pueblo organizations to obtain 
federal grants for various programs, but said the main effort is to 
mobilize the local community.

"What we are looking for from Pueblo is a willingness for people to 
volunteer and commit the time and effort to the community strategy," Brown 
said when asked if the city needed to provide matching funds to participate 
in the federal program.

She said the DEA has began the program earlier this year in three "pilot" 
cities - Portsmouth, Va.; Allentown, Pa.; and North Charleston, S.C. Since 
then, two other cities - Springfield, Mo., and Mobile, Ala. - have been 
added to the list. Pueblo would be the sixth city to participate.

Brown said the DEA would dedicate a special agent to work with the city for 
the first year of the project. The first step will be to convene a 
community-wide "drug summit" in February to begin developing a plan.

While council was pleased at being selected by DEA for the program, 
Councilman Pat Avalos noted that much of the anti-drug effort in the city 
is carried on by local nonprofit organizations, which have been targeted in 
City Manager Lee Evett's budget recommendations to lose city funding next year.

Avalos and other council members have indicated they will maintain funding 
for those groups next year, but he emphasized that it would be pointless 
for the DEA to begin organizing a community-wide effort if the existing 
agencies are hampered by a loss in city funding.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager