Pubdate: Fri, 27 Aug 2004
Source: Messenger-Inquirer (KY)
Copyright: 2004 Messenger-Inquirer
Author: Joe Biesk, Associated Press


FRANKFORT -- Kentucky's substance abuse problems are at "epidemic"
proportions, Gov. Ernie Fletcher said Thursday while announcing a new
Office of Drug Control Policy, responsible for coordinating the
state's drug-fighting efforts.

Fletcher named Sylvia Lovely, the executive director of the Kentucky
League of Cities, as the temporary head of the new anti-drug office.
Among its responsibilities, the new office will be charged with
implementing recommendations from the "Statewide Drug Control
Assessment Summit 2004."

Kentucky's new tactics against illegal drug use would combine efforts
in education and prevention, drug treatment and law enforcement,
Fletcher said.

"What has been done in this state to address this issue in the past
has not produced the necessary results," Fletcher said. "It is not
enough for us to be tough on the substance abuse problem. We must
become effective."

In February, the Fletcher administration commissioned a 51-member
summit that toured the state gathering public comments on Kentucky's
illegal drug problems. The group's 480-page final report was also
released Thursday.

Among its findings, the report recommended creating the OCDP and
increasing drug courts and substance abuse treatment programs across
the state.

The summit also recommended shortening waiting periods for people
waiting to get into treatment programs, boosting the state's education
efforts on drug abuse and prevention and increasing communication
between law enforcement agencies.

"We have to realize that this is greater than a law enforcement
problem," Fletcher said. "We're going to treat it like an epidemic
with an effective method of enforcement, treatment and education."

That's part of the reason he named someone without previous law
enforcement experience, Fletcher said.

Lovely said she would hold the post for about three months while
finding a permanent replacement. Her first official day on the job is
next Monday, she said.

"It's probably best at this point not to have somebody with an
expertise, perhaps, in drug and substance abuse policy, which I'm not
an expert in that area," Lovely said, "but really someone who can help
coordinate substance abuse agencies and problems."

Lovely said she would continue in her role with the League of Cities.
While she won't be paid by the state, her organization would be
reimbursed for her salary, Lovely said.

It would cost about $1.5 million to establish the office, and there
was $90,000 left over from the summit's operating budget, Fletcher

But developing the new office should not cost the state extra money,
Fletcher said. It can be funded through existing money in the budget
and through federal grants, he said.

"This is the beginning, I think, of one of the most progressive
initiatives to fight drugs in the country," Fletcher said.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin