|Metro Gives Kids Stern Warning On Drugs|
|By Vernon Robison
Moapa Valley Progress
Published February 18, 2009
Local Metropolitan Police officers gave a stern and direct warning to Moapa Valley High School (MVHS) students and a group of their parents in a series of meetings held last week. The message: if kids are caught dabbling in drugs, they will go to jail.
“After today the kid gloves are coming off,” said Metro Sergeant Bret Empey at an assembly of MVHS students on Tuesday, February 10. “No more messing around. If you do drugs we will arrest you and you’ll go to jail.”
In a Monday night meeting with parents, Metro officer Allan Johnson said that local police had been seeing a lot of drug related issues lately in the Valley involving youth; especially in the abuse of prescription drugs. “This issue involves everyone and affects everyone in the community,” Johnson said. “It isn’t just the low income kids and families. Problems are arising where you wouldn’t ever expect them.”
Johnson asked for additional parent involvement in solving the problem before tougher law enforcement tactics go into place. “In the past, we have been pretty low key about things,” he said. “After all, we live here and are invested in this community. We don’t want to have to take kids to jail. But it is getting to the point where we have to crack down.”
Each meeting included an in-depth educational presentation about the dangers of drugs. The presentations were given by visiting Narcotics Officers out of Las Vegas.
The presentations began by placing a heavy emphasis on the dangers of marijuana use. Marijuana is a commonly abused drug and is often dismissed as a less dangerous drug, the officers said. But the dangers are significant. Furthermore, it is known as a gateway drug to heavier substance abuse.
The presentation continued by giving graphic details, and by showing disturbing photographs, dealing with the effects of cocaine, heroine, meth, inhalants and many other substances.
Special emphasis was placed on the problems around the abuse of prescription drugs. Narcotics officers stated that prescription drug abuse is often rationalized by teens because “it came from a doctor and so it is not an illegal drug.” They underestimate the danger that comes from using medications in this way.
Narcotics officer Bruce Getner explained his belief that this comes from the modern notion that everything can be fixed with medicine. “When I was a kid, if I was bored or depressed or sad my folks would tell me to go outside and play; go and build something,” Getner said. “Nowadays, all too often the parents give kids a pill to fix those types of problems. It has led to what has been called generation RX; kids that think that pills are the solutions to anything.”
Getner talked about the increasing problem his group has observed with kids going out to pill popping parties where the price of admission is prescription pills brought in for everyone to try. “The kids don’t have any idea what they are taking,” he said. “It could be anything. In addition, they usually mix it will alcohol at these parties.”
Getner explained that alcohol mixed, with many prescription drugs, provides a strong multiplyer to the effects of the drug.
Getner encouraged parents to closely monitor any prescription drugs at home or in the homes of relatives. “Kids are getting these things from the medicine cabinets at home or at Grandma’s house,” he said.
“All of these things are going on right here in your high school,” Johnson told parents.
Johnson stated that it is easy, in a small town, to put blinders on and think that horrible things don’t happen here. But he said that most of the same things that go on in Las Vegas have found their way to Moapa Valley.
“You’d be amazed at who the kids are that are involved in this stuff,” Johnson continued. “They’re good kids from good families. They’re kids that I would have said no way they would be involved. But they were.”
MVHS Dean of Students, Tracy Cardinal expressed concern about the drug problems that she has seen increase recently. “We are worried about our kids and what they may be getting themselves into,” Cardinal said. “We feel like knowledge is power so these presentations are here because we want people to have knowledge.”
“Kids make mistakes,” Cardinal said in the parent meeting. “We all remember that and I’m sure all of us made mistakes when we were young. We just don’t want mistakes to be fatal.”