2017-03-15 / Front Page

Undersheriff outlines county’s anti-drug efforts; community involvement plays key role in fight

DuMond addresses community members at Middletown Board
By Susan Kurp

“See something, say something.”

That’s the message Delaware County Undersheriff Craig Du- Mond encouraged the Middletown Town Board to spread on March 8 as he addressed the growing drug use, including heroin, that has spread throughout Delaware County and throughout the country. The statistics are daunting. In one year alone, 2012, the sheriff’s department saw an increase of 397 percent in felony drug arrests.

Experts agreed that early intervention is the key to solving the problem locally and that people who “see something should say something.” The frequently repeated phrase covered instances from what to do if a parent suspects a child might be trying drugs to what to do if a citizen sees suspicious behavior on the streets.

“You know your community better than we do, “DuMond said. “ Even a little piece of information, like a bunch of the same cars pulling up to the same houses, can help us. It may not be enough evidence in itself, but that little bit of information might be the key to a case the sheriff’s office is already building.”

DuMond said his office has a tip line (888 914-9111) that is a key element in making arrests, but cautioned board and audience members that tips often take months to follow up and that “cases have to be built before arrests are made.” He added that it is most helpful if people calling the tip line identify themselves so authorities can call them for more information and noted that all information, whether anonymous or attributed, is held in strictest confidence by the police.

State made changes

In 2010, New York State created the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing (ISTOP). Effective in 2013, most prescribers are now required to consult the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) Registry when writing prescriptions for Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances. The PMP Registry provides practitioners with direct, secure access to view dispensed controlled substance prescription histories for their patients.

As of March 2016, a new law made New York a national leader by being one of the first states to move from paper prescriptions to a system mandating the electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) for all controlled substances with limited exceptions. E-prescribing is critical to help to eliminate diversion that results from the alteration, forgery, or theft of prescription paper.

The result, DuMond said, is that doctors are more and more often reluctant to write a prescription for pain medication. “This halted over-prescribing and doctor shopping, but left a lot of people addicted. And opiate painkillers are just the prescription form of heroin. Now you don’t see junkies in alleys with a needle sticking out of their arms. Now it’s doctors, lawyers – professional people – and more kids too.”

In fact, “when we started giving assemblies to 11th and 12th graders, they quickly recommended that these talks be given in small groups to middle school children.”

“Three pillars”

DuMond tackled what he called the “three pillars” of work embraced by all members of the Drug Task Force he chairs, focusing on education, treatment and enforcement.

Margaretville Central School, for instance, has provided an ancillary spot within the school for officers. “We sit there and do our paperwork; we have lunch with the kids and patrol the hallways. It gives a better way to establish relationships with the students, and they’re more comfortable talking to us.”

DuMond said that from a law enforcement perspective, his department views those involved in the drug trade from two different perspectives: some as victims and some as criminals. Among the victims, said DuMond, are the drug addicts, many of whom were intentionally hooked by dealers seeking to sell their wares for huge profits. The dealers, and those who supply them, need to be prosecuted for criminal behavior.

Illicit use of prescription medicine has become one of the nation’s fastest-growing drug problem. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 15,000 people die every year of overdoses due to prescription painkillers. In 2010, one in 20 people in the United States over the age of 11 reported using prescription painkillers for nonmedical reasons in the past year. Sales of opioid painkillers quadrupled between 1999 and 2010. Enough opioid painkillers were prescribed in 2010 to medicate every American adult with 5mg of hydrocodone every four hours for a month. Moreover, an estimated 70% of people who abuse prescription painkillers obtained them from friends or relatives who originally received the medication from a prescription. The problem is of particular concern with respect to young adults and teens.

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