April 24, 2012 —
Working in the field of Law Enforcement presents it daily rewards and challenges, as well as a constant need to walk a fine line between protecting public safety while not infringing upon the people’s rights. This can sometimes be even more challenging when we are presented with a product that is being used in a manner that it is not intended, is a danger to those abusing it, and can affect the rest of the community through its abuse. Teen medicine abuse is just such an issue, and has been a growing concern in our community.
As a police officer, it does not come as a surprise to me that many teens feel the need to spread their wings and experiment. We make a concerted effort to keep abreast of issues affecting our teenagers, but the lengths to which some teens will go to attain that “high” through any means necessary often comes as a complete shock to their parents and sometimes even their friends. We know that teens experience a lot of pressure and may abuse substances such as cough medicines to attain a high to escape that pressure, boredom, or depression. Shockingly many teens and parents do not realize how dangerous abusing these drugs can be, and the extensive damage they can cause.
In our community we believe that the best way to combat these kinds of issues is to keep our citizens informed about the problems we are facing. I write a weekly column in two local newspapers that addresses these issues, and we regularly hold informational meetings that are open to the entire community. We encourage our citizens to become involved at these events, and invite their questions and concerns. We work in concert with our school system, providing resource officers that facilitate communication between students, staff and their parents in an attempt to keep appraised of these issues facing our kids.
For parents who want to work with Law Enforcement to prevent teen medicine abuse, I would advise contacting your local police department and expressing your concerns. Most police departments have an officer(s) who handle public concerns and can help you get started working together. Of course websites such as StopMedicineAbuse.org provide invaluable resources in the fight against this issue. By combining the resources of such a great organization as this with the efforts of the concerned citizens of your area, you can help to prevent the spread of teen medicine abuse in your community.
Tim Bates is the Detective Commander of the Rome, New York Police Department. For questions or comments, he can be reached at (315) 339-7715 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.