Pubdate: Tue, 18 Jan 2005
Source: Daily Mountain Eagle (Jasper, AL)
Copyright: 2005 Daily Mountain Eagle
Author: Ron Harris


Jasper narcotics agents working hard to eliminate illegal drug use in the

The problem with illegal drugs in Jasper seems to be growing, despite the
best efforts put forth by the narcotics unit of the Jasper Police

"It's a never-ending battle," Jasper Police Chief Bobby Cain said last week.

Last year marked the first full year the unit has been in operation since
severing its ties with the county's Narcotics Enforcement Team. The decision
to form its own drug unit was the right one to make, Cain said.

"We wanted to concentrate on our area and on our town," he said. "Of course,
we'll still assist the county unit any time we can. After all, we're all
working for the same goal, and that's to stop drug use in the county."

Unfortunately, Cain said all the work sometimes seems futile.

"It's a never-ending, losing battle," he said, adding that agents currently
are working on more than 40 cases in the city. "Our undercover agents buy
drugs every day."

In 2004, the unit made 507 cases involving illegal narcotics, Cain said. All
were felony cases, the majority involving the use of cocaine,
methamphetamine or marijuana.

Other cases included forged prescriptions, the use of hallucinogenic drugs,
and trafficking cases.

And all that with just three undercover agents, plus help received by local
Alabama Beverage Control agents.

"That's really good," Cain said. "It shows they are dedicated to their job."

The use or sale of illegal drugs can be attributed to almost all crimes
committed in Jasper, Cain said.

"Drugs lead to about 90 percent of our problems," he said. "Anytime you have
someone commit a burglary, or anytime you have someone commit a robbery,
they're probably on drugs. If we completely stopped the drug use in the
city, I'd have to lay some folks off. We'd just run out of things to do."

Realistically, that's not going to happen, he added.

"No way," he said. "The guys who work in the drug unit have one of the most
secure jobs around. Unfortunately, it's a necessary evil.

"When you start talking about necessities in law enforcement, you first have
to have a weapon, you have to have communications, you have to have
automobiles, and you have to have a drug unit," Cain added. "If you don't,
the illegal drug use will eat you up."

The police department receives calls every day from residents complaining
about the use of and the sale of drugs in their neighborhood.
"Unfortunately, we can't get to all of them," Cain said.

Most families in the county have been affected by illegal drug use, either
directly or indirectly, Cain said.

"There's not too many families which haven't been affected by drugs in some
shape, form or fashion," he said.

In the last year alone, Cain said several people in Jasper died from drug
overdoses. Most were because of prescription drug overdoses.

Cain said the illegal drug problem in Jasper runs along no particular racial
or economic group.

"It has no racial boundaries, no social or economic boundaries. It can
happen to the wealthiest person in Jasper, or to the poorest," Cain said.
"It can happen anywhere. If you think you're exempt from it, you're just
fooling yourself."

Cain said he routinely has to face parents hoping for answers about how to
deal with a child with a drug problem.

"Most times, I don't know what to tell them," he admitted.

Parents really need to be more aware of what their kids are doing, who their
friends are, and what their surroundings are away from home.

"Parents need to just be nosy," Cain said. "That's the best advice I can
give. Just don't take anything for granted. And parents need to ask
questions, because kids don't always tell their parents everything."

In the past, city and police department officials have hosted seminars on
how to deal with the drug problem in Jasper. Apathy and a low turnout led
the demise of the program.

"We just had no participation from parents," Cain said. "We could get the
parents there who want to help us on a daily basis to control the problem.
The ones we couldn't get to come are the ones who needed it the most."

Cain said parental involvement is key to making sure kids stay away from
illegal drugs.

"A lot parents blame the schools and the teachers and law enforcement and
say they aren't doing enough," he said. "But we can't raise their kids for
them. Parents have to take responsibility for their kids' actions."
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