Drug seminar reveals surprising statsPublished 4:25pm Wednesday, November 21, 2012
It is called crocodile. It is a drug born in Russia that literally causes the user’s skin to rot, sometimes to the bone, and it has made its way to Escambia County Alabama.
Crocodile, and many other illegal narcotics being used in the county were the reason for a drug education seminar held Thursday, Nov. 15 at First Presbyterian Church.
Illegal narcotics have become a major issue all over the United States, but in Escambia County officials are banding together in an effort to halt drug use and drug related crimes through community education.
Officials including Circuit Judge Burt Rice, District, Juvenile and Family Court Judge David Jordan, County Drug Court Director Denise Carlee, Atmore Public Safety Director Glenn Carlee and 21st Judicial Task Force Agent Scott Walden gathered the Church for the first of what the group is hoping will be many drug education seminars to come.
Rice told the crowd the seminar was the result of an increase in drug-related charges coming through the county court system – something he said he feels can be slowed by educating the community on what to look for in people who may be participating in the drug culture.
“We see it everyday through the court system and law enforcement,” Rice said. “There are certain things that we see that we wanted to share.”
Rice said dealing with the drug problems through the court system is a reactive measure, adding it will take a proactive effort to curb the issue.
“Most of what we are doing is reacting to people who have problems,” Rice said. “This awareness get together is to try and be able to maybe be a little proactive and to be able to speak to some of the issues that are out there.”
Rice said people need to realize that addiction touches everyone in some way or another.
“There is nobody in this room right now that doesn’t know somebody who is addicted or involved in some respect with drugs and needs some help,” he said. “We all are interacting with that.”
Rice, who is a member of First Presbyterian, said the church was chosen as the venue for the seminar because the group feels churches are the backbone of local communities.
“We appreciate the church,” Rice said. “There is a program called First Presbyterian Cares, but we’ve got churches just around the corner and all over the town that care.”
Rice said Jordan each spoke briefly about the state of drug activity in Escambia County. Each man focused on a major point of concern – the activity is dramatically increasing.
“Today, I sat on the bench and I had what’s called arraignment,” Rice said. “My docket today had 223 cases. Out of those 223 cases, 146 were drug charges. An additional 35 was theft charges probably to support the drug habit. That’s 181 cases out of 223 that appeared in front of me today. That’s 81.1 percent. And that’s just from the last three months.”
Jordan said, while the problem is rampant among all age groups, a heavy portion of offenders are juveniles.
“We don’t have any good news,” Jordan said. “We have information. If I can say something that you can take and pass on to a relative or a neighbor its worth it. We can’t save them all, but we’re going to save anybody we can.”
Jordan said some of the juveniles who pass through his court have stories that can only be described as scary.
“The numbers are staggering,” Jordan said. “There’s so much usage and there’s so much destruction.”
Following a presentation from Carlee and Walden outlining the different problem narcotics and how to identify the warning signs of usage, Rice said there is still hope to stop the growing epidemic.
“With God’s grace we can stop this,” he said.