-- — Combating the rise in heroin use here “is not an easy problem with an easy answer,” noted Mayor Rick Fledderman at the June 28 Batesville forum on the topic.
The goal is to incarcerate drug dealers and get help for addicts. The mayor stressed, “We want to be understanding. This is in no way a witch hunt.” Indiana State Police Drug Enforcement Section Detective Tami Watson, Indianapolis, said, “As law enforcement, we are not here to investigate your children ... we want to know who\'s selling it.”
She added, however, “Sometimes, if your child ends up in jail for the night, that\'s the best thing that could happen ... they have to hit rock bottom” before deciding to change behavior. Watson said it might be wise to refuse to bail a child out immediately.
“I challenge you: What can you do to help us out?” asked Batesville Community School Corp. superintendent Dr. Jim Roberts, who formed the Community Issues Committee that planned the meeting.
When investigating crimes, “law enforcement can\'t do it all,” Watson pointed out. “We took an oath to be your servant ... we work for you. Give us something to do.” She gave an example: “If you notice your neighbor\'s house has a lot of cars in and out at 2 or 3 in the morning,\" call police. If possible, “get a couple (license) plate numbers and vehicle descriptions. You can\'t be afraid to make that phone call.”
To try to pinpoint where drugs are being sold, “get with other moms and dads and ask, ‘Where are your kids hanging out?’”
If a drug dealing location is suspected or discovered, discretion must be used. “If the dealer knows you know, it\'s dangerous,” Watson cautioned. “Don\'t tell your neighbor. You call the police department.”
People shouldn’t expect users to divulge who the sellers are. The detective said, “Heroin is life or death. A heroin dealer is going to threaten your child with harm to themselves, their families, their friends\" if they tell. Not only that, if a dealer is arrested, “it cuts off their supply.”
Many spoke during the forum’s comments section. A Sunman woman whose son went to prison hooked on crystal meth reported, “As a mother .... it’s hard to see the signs” of drug use. She warned, “Insurance doesn\'t want to pay for someone who\'s on heroin.” It was hard to find treatment for the young man.
Community Mental Health Center offers services to youth involved with substance abuse and mental health problems, said intensive youth services director Stacey Cornett. “We will work with people regardless of their ability to pay.”
The only teen to speak said heroin use “upsets a lot of us younger kids ... we don\'t like to see it. We’ve lost friends to it.” He suggested parents should not yell at kids if drug use is discovered. Instead, the best explanation before getting help could be, “Heroin is not a drug, it\'s a disease that can really harm you.”
Others offered ideas. When he learned of the problem, new resident Dr. Dan Berg, Hillenbrand Inc. occupational medicine director, said, “I\'m alarmed. I\'m angry. The reason is this drug is nothing like any other drug.” He recommended that parents know what their teens are doing during times when risky behavior seems to occur: Monday-Thursday, 3-6 p.m.; and Friday-Sunday, 8 p.m.-midnight.
Berg promised to share ideas of how Bloomington youth were empowered to take ownership of clubs, which seemed to lessen drug use. “We\'re not going to take it in Bloomington and, by all means, we\'re not going to take it in Batesville.”
Kathy Riley of One Community One Family’s United Families program said she mentors parents who have children with behavioral problems.
The Rev. Steve Yeaton of Batesville Christian Church observed area churches should be represented on the committee. “Churches have a lot of resources.” The Rev. Dave Johnston of Batesville United Church of Christ, Huntersville, thought a drama, written and presented by local teens, could drive the abstinence message home.
A woman asked if drug testing students who take part in extracurricular activities would be feasible. Roberts recalled years ago the school board vetoed the idea, but said it could be revisited.
Sean Boyce, a Young Life staffer, said parties where youth were pressured to experiment with various substances are “a huge issue.” Later they would tell him, “‘I didn\'t really want to, but I was there.’ We as adults need to be watching and stepping up and not allowing” the unmonitored gatherings. “Kids are not just drinking. They\'re easily sneaking stuff in. They\'re hurting. What they\'re using isn\'t numbing them enough, so they\'re trying other stuff.” Boyce was applauded after saying, “Be OK with not being best friends with kids.”
Roberts told the 300 attendees, “The response here is tremendous. Obviously you care.” He asked concerned citizens with questions and ideas of how to lessen the problem to call him at 934-2194 or e-mail jroberts @batesville.k12.in.us.
Persons might feel more comfortable discussing the issue with other committee members they know: Andy Allen, Mike Bettice, Debbie Blank, Cindy Blessing, Rick Fledderman, Therese Gillman, Stan Holt, Jessica Imel, Jerry Lanning, Kim Linkel, Geralyn Litzinger, Chris Lowery, Mary Mattingly, Allen Meyers, Chad Moeller, Sherri Preston, Tim Putnam, Blake Roope, Ron Thomson and Melissa Tucker.
The group meets July 12 to figure out future tactics and events.