Pubdate: Fri, 03 Jun 2005
Source: Flamborough Post (CN ON)
Copyright: 2005, Flamborough Post
Author: Angela Blackburn, Special to the Review
Bookmark: (Youth)


It wasn't just the weather heating up this spring, but schools, too, as the 
Hamilton Police Service wrapped up its five-week Operation Spring Thaw to 
fight drug use in Hamilton and area high schools.

The sweep saw police make 125 drug-related youth contacts.

According to Hamilton Police Youth Co-ordinator Sgt. Richard Floriani, 
that's contact with those in possession of marijuana or other drugs or 
those dealt with by police.

Police issued 89 cautions, referred 29 youths to the Hamilton Youth Drug 
Diversion Program and laid four criminal charges.

Just how many, if any, of those results were specific to Flamborough, 
police refuse to say for fear of identifying young offenders.

What isn't unidentified is a growing drug problem.

"Over the past several years, the Hamilton Police Service has noted a 
dramatic increase in the number of young people using drugs," said Floriani.

Hamilton police use a three-pronged approach that involves prevention, 
intervention and enforcement to combat drug use by youths,

Last year, prevention took the form of a new Drug Prevention Tips pamphlet 
to help in educating parents. Intervention is addressed through what's 
called the Hamilton Youth Drug Diversion Program.

Enforcement involves Hamilton Police School Resource Officers (SROs) 
attending Hamilton and area high schools.

The latest sweep of the 20 high schools in Hamilton and surrounding areas, 
including Flamborough, was dubbed Operation Spring Thaw.

It took place over five weeks and came to an end May 20.

While such sweeps are done on a smaller scale throughout the year, two 
major projects are conducted in the spring and fall, according to Floriani.

When it comes to intervention, the youth drug diversion program has been a 
couple of years in the making and has had a fair degree of success.

According to the youth officer, of the 84 youths who've gone through the 
program, only three have been caught with drugs for a second time.

The program isn't for repeat offenders, but rather those who may be 
first-time offenders, and who have school and family support, according to 
the officer.

The program takes place eight times a year, usually on a Saturday, and sees 
a youth attend with a parent in a group of approximately 15 youths.

The day-long session involves lectures by a police officer, public health 
worker and representatives from other agencies dealing with youths.

"Hamilton Police take a zero tolerance approach to drugs in schools. We 
want to emphasis to the young people in our community that using drugs is a 
crime and anyone using them will be held accountable," said Floriani.

Drug use is believed to be the root of much petty crime, and property 
crime, according to a recent meeting of the Flamborough Crime Activity 
Prevention (CAP) Committee.

CAP presented a survey that showed while crime is down across Hamilton 
Division 3 - which includes Flamborough as well as Ancaster, Dundas, and 
Hamilton Mountain - youth-related issues remain paramount.

According to Division 3 youth officer Frank Miscione, crime among youths is 
fueled by drug use.

The majority of break and enter, and theft crimes see thieves target items 
that can be stolen quickly and then sold easily on the street for cash to 
buy drugs.

Another avenue of combating drug use is to give youths something to do 
other than hanging around, which can lead to loitering and mischief.

The relationship between drug use and property crime was illustrated in the 
recent results of the Hamilton Police's 2005 Project Full Court Press.

That project saw uniform, crime analyst and drug officers share information 
with the High Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) and over a six-week period, 
aggressively target crack houses, crack addicts and street-level dealers in 
central Hamilton.

Besides nearly 200 charges being laid, the seizure of drugs and stolen 
property, police reported a simultaneous 33 per cent decrease in property 
crimes; 33 per cent drop in robberies, a 13 per cent drop in stolen 
vehicles and a 32 per cent decrease in thefts from vehicles.
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