The Times West Virginian

January 27, 2013

With ‘more’ as an obstacle, drug fight in county proceeds one case at a time


Times West Virginian

— It’s been almost four months since we made a very bold statement ... Marion County is fighting back against drugs.

And we are.

Since the beginning of October, multi-media journalist Emily Gallagher has written a piece each Monday highlighting a group, a cause or an individual who is fighting that good fight.

Last week, the final in the series “Marion County Fights Back” appeared in the Times West Virginian. Two days later, Gallagher invited all of her sources to sit down in our offices one evening to talk about the issue of drugs in our community, the resources needed and where do we go from here.

The overwhelming answer given on how to fight back against drugs in our community is one simple word.

More.

More prevention.

More intervention.

More treatment.

More recovery.

More resources.

More cooperation.

And it may be a simple word, but it is certainly an obstacle that keeps the warriors in the fight against drugs from being as successful as they could be.

But we don’t want to minimize the success there has been in this community. Within the past six months, two major drug busts involving city and federal and then county law enforcement have taken dealers and guns off the street. And those same law-enforcement officers say that for a period of time, large busts mean less crime.

But the time it takes to investigate, execute and then prosecute those cases takes more resources than we have in our police agencies and prosecuting attorney’s office.

The DARE program and having a prevention resource officer in the school system is a great thing. It builds relationships with students and police officers, who see them as role models, coaches and someone you can approach with a problem instead the negative attitude that unfortunately develops about police officers in the crime community.

But there are 22 schools in Marion County — seven in the city alone. And Fairmont has only one officer dedicated to that mission. Grants that could fund more officers would cover less than half the salary, benefits and retirement of an officer, and the city just doesn’t have the resources for more.

But no battle worth fighting is easily won. Obstacles cannot stop us from fighting the good fight.

And sometimes all of the effort is worth it, even if it only changes the lives of a few.

There’s no way to measure how successful our series of stories detailing the ones who are fighting back against drugs is. You can’t change the world in four months.

But one person’s world can change. And we hope that’s happened. We’ve had several phone calls from people who wanted help and didn’t know how to get it. We’ve had calls from people who asked where to attend a Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

When the word “more” becomes an obstacle, you win the war by winning one battle at a time.

And we congratulate the ones winning the battles, from police officers and attorneys to teachers and counselors to teens and parents.

And we congratulate the ones who have seen their own lives within these profiles, and who look in the mirror and say “today is the day drugs won’t control my life.”