Photo by Erica Techo
At a Whatever it Takes meeting at Shades Crest Baptist Church, community members narrowed down starting points for educational programs.
The Whatever it Takes group working to combat illegal drug use in Hoover is taking steps to implement more community outreach and events.
People who gathered at today's meeting at Shades Crest Baptist Church reviewed ideas from their last meeting in January and tried to pinpoint which ones would be easiest to implement and who could take leadership roles.
Hoover City Schools Foundation Executive Director Janet Turner said the foundation could help set up a Facebook page for Whatever it Takes and communicate with Parent Teacher Organizations to find dates where they could attend meetings. A social media presence would also allow them to share posts from the Hoover Police Department or Addiction Prevention Coalition and vice versa.
“You’ve got to open their [parents’] eyes because they think it doesn’t happen. They have no idea,” Turner said.
Members of the Hoover Police Department's narcotics unit said they would work to establish an anti-drug abuse message for National Night Out, an annual event held in August that is designed to promote neighborhood camaraderie and partnerships between the community and police.
Lt. Mike Wright, who is taking command of the narcotics unit on Monday, May 2, said his unit could work to create a display that shows the utensils used in drug use as well as the warning signs for drug use.
National Night Out is very well-attended, Wright said. "It would not be a big deal at all to set up a section of the parking lot with the display and just where people could ask questions and we could answer them,” he said.
Wright also today gave an update on what police are seeing in regard to drug use, which he said is much different than it was at the start of his law enforcement career. Cheapness and availability of Mexican heroin has led to an increase in usage, he said.
“It’s coming back in here, and it’s coming back really hard,” he said.
Most heroin that police are encountering is being injected, which increases danger to law enforcement officers and community members, Wright said. When discussing drug use with kids, it's important to acknowledge the items that children may encounter, such as syringes or cooking spoons.
“When they’re dropping their needles or things like that and they’re hitting playgrounds, of course there’s always exposure risk for the children,” he said.
Lessons could include notes on “danger colors,” such as the orange that might be seen in a syringe, so that children will know to stay away from the potentially dangerous items.
Other narcotics officers said heroin overdoses are down for 2016.
This year, there have been just two heroin overdoses and only one involving death, one of the officers said. While they don't like to see any overdoses or deaths, this year's numbers are substantially lower than they were last year, and police are glad to see the numbers go down, he said.
The decrease in overdoses could come from a variety of factors, including weaker heroin and the availability of Narcan, a drug that helps bring patients back from an overdose, he said.