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 Two More Fatal Overdoses: Are We Losing the War on Drugs?

The local war on drugs offers up a bad news-good news scenario.

While Knightstown and Henry County law enforcement officers are unable to declare that they are winning the war on illegal drugs in this area, they do suggest that that things are beginning to move in the right direction.

Three months ago I told you all about the hypodermic needles, six in all, that were found in Sunset Park. According to Knightstown Police Chief Danny Baker, lab results later showed those needles were used to inject heroin and methamphetamine.

I also told you about the five fatal drug overdoses the community had experienced over a nine-month period. Well, today, you can add two more to that total. Over the past year this community has suffered the loss of seven people due to fatal overdoses of illegal drugs.

Also, in roughly 14 months, according to police reports, two former residents were murdered in other cities in drug related situations that went horribly bad.

That’s nine deaths in a 14-month period that were directly related to illegal hard core drugs.

That’s a lot of pain and sorrow.

I again spoke to Chief Baker about the drug situation in this area, and he confirmed that we have had two more fatal overdoses in the past two months. He also said police officers and paramedics have arrived in time to prevent other overdoses.

There is some good news, however. Since the publicity surrounding the existence of the hypodermic needles in the park last May, no more needles have been found, indicating that quite possibly those people are no longer using Sunset Park to feed their habit.

Or, maybe, they just aren’t leaving their nasty needles behind.

Baker said the police are fighting the war with the resources they have available.

“It’s a difficult battle when you are this limited,” Baker said. “It’s hard to get someone inside those groups because they are very secretive. We’re making some headway, but it’s a slow headway.”

Baker is setting his sights on getting a drug dog, which he believes will be a major tool that could escalate his department’s effectiveness to unforeseen levels. The dog will come with a price tag of about $15,000, and all of those funds will have to be obtained through donations.

“I’m not prepared to do this yet, but I’m planning to hit up the council with the idea pretty soon,” Baker said. “If a drug dog hits on a house or a car, that’s probable cause. That’s also a huge advantage in any war on drugs. But it’s an expensive process.”

Baker said the department has already received some monetary donations. A kennel has already been donated as well, and the cost of feeding the K-9 is also covered.

The expense will be in purchasing the dog and training the officer to work with it.

When hit with the question of whether or not his department is winning the war on drugs, Baker admitted they were not.

“With our limited resources I don’t think there’s any way we can,” he said. “But we’re going to keep fighting and find a way to come up with what we need to start making a major difference.”

The chief said the community can help in several ways. Donations to the K-9 account would be very helpful. Joining the Neighborhood Crime Watch group and participating in its programs is another avenue.

Being aware of your surroundings is a great way to participate.

“People should just watch for unusual activity,” Baker said. “If five cars show up at your neighbor’s in a short period of time and just stay for a few minutes, that’s a pretty good sign something’s going on in there that shouldn’t be.”

The KPD will be having its annual golf tournament on Sept. 27 in hopes of raising money for its equipment fund.

In the meantime, it looks like the local war on drugs more resembles a shoving match than a war, and the pushers are shoving a little harder.

Think about it. Seven fatal drug overdoses in 12 months.

Maybe it’s time for every organization in this community to come together, hold a special, joint fundraiser, and help arm the department with the equipment needed to fight this war.

If we don’t, one of these days, seven deaths will seem like a small number.


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