Pubdate: Fri, 22 Dec 2006
Source: Simcoe Reformer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006 Annex Publishing & Printing Inc.
Contact:  http://simcoereformer.ca/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/2386

MIXED MESSAGES

Simcoe has a drug problem.

We just need to look at the resources Norfolk OPP are putting into
cleaning up the town's downtown core for proof of that.

It was more than a year ago the issue of drugs - sale and use - in the
downtown core reached a breaking point.

A drug-related shooting on the periphery of downtown definitely caught
the attention of the public at large.

But, the drug problem was something of which many downtown business
people and residents were well aware.

Rightly or wrongly, the shooting may have been the catalyst to clean
up the core.

This week, Norfolk OPP Inspector Norm Denckert reported to the
county's police services board about drug activity in the core. He
said the courts are making a difference by keeping those charged with
drug offences in jail or ordering them to stay away from the downtown
while awaiting their day in court.

Denckert was speaking specifically of the more than 50 people who are
facing about 300 drug-related charges following a police undercover
operation in September.

Denckert also acknowledged that drug abuse is closely tied with other
crimes such as theft and violence.

"People need money to buy drugs," he said. "If you can solve your drug
problem, everything else seems to fall in line."

So, the police are doing their part to keep the drug dealers off the
street.

But are we doing enough to get abusers to kick the
habit?

The same day Denckert was making his presentation to the PSB this
newspaper ran an article on Holmes House, a rehab centre for those
with drug and alcohol problems that was in need of emergency funding.

In early 2005 the centre closed for about eight weeks due to a lack of
funding. If it will suffer a similar fate in early 2007 is anyone's
guess. This, despite the fact there is a waiting list for people
wanting to use its services.

In an interview last year, the facility's supervisor, Len Pollet,
said, "You can't fight addiction with guns and men in blue. You can
move them to another part of town, but there's always another person's
apartment or place to go.

"No one ever intends to become a junkie. For some people, it works for
them at the start, and then as the tolerance builds, they end up in a
horrific situation. They keep chasing that first high."

So, while the police need to be applauded for helping clean up the
core, they are really only solving one part of the problem. The fact
remains that the drug addicts will move to "another part of town" or
another town all together.

Some will never seek help to kick the habit, but for those who do,
resources should be available to help them along the way.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake