Huntington Mayor: Innovation Key to Fight Against Drugs
Huntington officials think the way to fight back against drug abuse in the area is to try unique and different approaches.
The word is innovation, it’s what Huntington Mayor Steve Williams thinks is the key to fighting drug-related crimes in Huntington.
One of those innovations is working with others in the area to not just fight drugs in Huntington, but fight them throughout the region. Among the innovations that the mayor highlights is the “Weed and Seed” program implemented in the Fairfield area of Huntington from 2008-2010. The program sought to “weed out” drugs and crime, and “plant seeds” of community action.
Fairfield is home to only 20% of Huntington’s population, the area saw 60% of the town’s murders, 77% of prostitution arrests and almost half of all adult drug crimes. Since Weed and Seed was implemented, both violent crime and drug offenses dropped by a third.
The focus for Huntington Police is now the West End of the city. Police are using lessons learned from Weed and Seed and are trying to replicate those successes. The River to Jail program as they call their effort in the West End started in 2012 and is ongoing.
Police report that drugs found in places like Fairfield and the West End come from big cities like Columbus, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The drugs most often found are heroin, cocaine and prescription pain killers.
Mayor Williams says his newly-established Office of Drug Control Policy is yet another example of innovative law enforcement, but that it will only be able to function properly with federal and state support.
It’s important to point out that the Office of Drug Control Policy won’t be charged with trying to arrest even more people, but instead will find ways to get law enforcement and addiction services to work together. Jim Johnson is the director of the office.
The focused effort in the West End of River to Rail led to results almost immediately in 2013 with 38 arrests over a four-month period. Police also confiscated 242 grams of heroin and more than $18,000 dollars.