By Marty Trese, KnoxPages.com Editor
MOUNT VERNON - More than 100 people were on hand for the first of four town hall meetings on the local drug epidemic Tuesday evening at Twin Oak Elementary School. Mayor Dick Mavis hosted the event.
Drug awareness and the local drug culture were discussed by Detective Lt. Craig Feeney of the Knox County Sheriff's Office and Detective Corporal J. T. DeChant of the MVPD. It was stressed that the drug problem is not a law enforcement problem, but a community problem.
The drugs that are most prevalent in Knox County today are marijuana, heroin and methamphetamine.
*The marijuana is much more potent than it was back in the 1970's. Det. Feeney said the marijuana of today has 95% THC.
*Meth is one of the most widely used in our community right now. Users cook the chemicals to make it and images shown illustrated how flammable the process can be.
*Heroin is cheaper and easier to obtain than prescription pain killers. It's common knowledge just how addictive heroin can be. If an addict tries to "dry out" (get off it) they can become very ill and that's one reason why stopping the use of heroin is so difficult.
Overdoses have happened in our community. Numbers of OD cases were not released at the Town Hall event. But Det. Feeney said recent overdoses have involved heroin with fetanyl and carfentanil, which can be lethal in very small doses.
Lt. Feeney said, "The community has to get involved in the effort [to stop drug epidemic]." Law enforcement's goal is to go up the food chain and stop the major dealers. Residents can help by being vigilant and reporting suspicious activity.
KCSO Detective Lt. Craig Feeney at the first drug town hall Tuesday evening at Twin Oak elementary school - KP Photo
To report suspicious activity there are two numbers set up to take messages. The KCSO tip line is 740-399-3959. The MVPD tip line is 740-393-9500. Callers can remain anonymous.
During the Q and A session, a resident asked about stopping suspected drug dealers who cruise through town on bicycles with no license and no light. City code was cited that says bicycles must have lights from sunset to sunrise and a license.
Another resident asked about the use of K-9s or police dogs to fight the drug problem. Currently, MVPD does not have its own K-9 unit and often relies on Danville PD, which has three K-9s. An effort is underway by a local non-profit organization, to raise $18,000 to fund a K-9 unit for the MVPD. Donations can be made through the Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County or the Arms of an Angel Foundation.
Three more town hall meetings are planned:
Thursday, May 11, 2017 – Crime Prevention, Crime Trends (fraud, scams, theft), Neighborhood Watch Programs, Community Safety.
Thursday, May 18, 2017 – The Court Perspective and Judicial Process. Through a panel discussion hear a local judicial perspective as it relates to crime, punishment, and addiction recovery.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017 – Community Recovery and Addiction Resources. Learn about recovery services and resources currently available to citizens of Knox County
To view a video of the first Town Hall meeting click here.