The City Of Picayune Fights Drugs In Phases - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/18/05

The City Of Picayune Fights Drugs In Phases

Donald Hart owns a barber shop here on the south side of Picayune.

He says over time, he has personally seen the effects of drugs within this part of the community.

"I have experienced a burglary here in my business and after the police came in and investigated promptly and my property was recovered and an arrest was made," said Hart.

His stolen property had been sold, and police believe the money was used to buy drugs.

But Hart has seen a turn of events since police started a drug offensive program, which focuses on education, enforcement and rehabilitation.

"I have seen change. As far as people going into the system and coming out and being more productive citizens rather than coming out and repeating," said Hart.

Ever since the Picayune Police Department began its three phase drug offensive program, burglaries here on the south side of Picayune as well as in the rest of the city have gone down 60%.

Police chief Jim Luke says it takes a good strategy to fight the war on drugs,and its a war the city plans to win.

And in order to win, residents become informed at town meetings like this one at Picayune Junior High School.

Thursday's meeting focused on the third element of the program - rehabilitation.

"We have to reach out to of course our young people and teach them at an early age. Yes, we do have to stop the introduction of people selling drugs in our area, but more importantly, we have to help those who find themselves addicted to drugs," said Luke.

Chief Luke says the department will use every resource it has to help the city become a drug free zone, and so far, he believes the city is on the right track.

"It's a community effort. It's not just the police department. It's a partnership between the schools and the community I believe is the reason why we're so effective here with this offensive," said Luke.

Chief Luke has announced the creation of a 24-hour substance abuse hotline.

If you need help, and don't know where to turn, call 601-798-7411, extension 333.

By Karla Redditte

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