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      Public Forum Focuses On
Keeping Kids Off Drugs

COMBAT Director Stacey Daniels-Young stresses the need for collaboration among program geared toward preventing kids from using drugs.

APRIL 15, 2011 -- The "Full Scope of Hope" public forum COMBAT held April 2 at The View Community Center in Grandview focused on the full range of Jackson County's anti-drug program -- prevention, treatment and law enforcement. But special emphasis was placed on kids and efforts to prevent them from ever using drugs.

COMBAT Director Stacey Daniels-Young noted that she and her staff have been conducting meetings with officials from each school district in Jackson County to discuss how to more effectively convey the anti-drug message to students of all ages. Those meetings are laying the groundwork for greater collaboration among school resource officers, Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) coordinators and individuals who operate COMBAT-supported programs.

"It all comes down to at-risk kids," said COMBAT Assistant Director Vince Ortega. "Schools know who the at-risk kids are."

Keeping kids out of gangs can also be vital to stopping them from becoming involved in drug-related crime. Jackson County and the local United States Attorney's Office are teaming up to conduct a study assessing the extent of gang activity in the County. Such an assessment is a required precursor to applying for federal funding to implement anti-gang programs.

Essential For Law Enforcement

"These programs that COMBAT funds are very important to the community," states Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp.

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Sharp and Dan Cummings of the Jackson County Drug Task Force both pointed out that the Community Backed Anti-Drug sales tax is essential to ongoing law enforcement efforts to stamp out drug crime. Thirteen area police departments belong to the Drug Task Force. By pooling resources, the Drug Task can more effectively investigate and apprehend illegal drug manufacturers and distributors than individual law enforcement agencies working independently.

COMBAT funds the Jackson County Drug Task Force.

"Without the COMBAT tax, this wouldn't be possible for local police departments," said Cummings.

Prevention & Treatment Programs

While Sharp and Cummings joined Major Brent Miller from the Grandview Police Department in conveying how important COMBAT is to fighting drug crime, representatives from Cornerstones of Care and Crittenton Children's Center each cited how COMBAT funding helps them offer drug abuse prevention and treatment programs. Cornerstones of Care provides treatment services for adolescents who've used alcohol or drugs. Crittenton's Adolescent Chemical Dependency Intensive Outpatient Program also works to help young people (13 to 19) turn their lives around after alcohol/drug use.

Nicole Hutton with Crittenton's Prevention and Recovery Program noted how becoming involved in volunteerism, such as working at local food pantries, has helped many at-risk youths "give back to the community" and kept them from going down a path that could lead to drugs and crime.

COMBAT Planning & Development Administrator Dave Fleming called the meeting one of the "most interactive" the COMBAT staff has ever conducted. The staff and the forum's other speakers fielded several questions from representatives of various neighborhood associations and area churches, as well as concerned citizens.



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