Hope Against Dope: Carroll residents launch offensive
Saturday, September 14, 2013 5:00 AM
Carroll County, Ky., residents are stepping up to help law enforcement curb drug use in the county.
Delaine Delehanty, left, and Jessica Herrell talk about the proactive measures they are taking to put a dent in the drug problem in the Carrollton area. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchieemail@example.com)
Drug-related arrests in Carrollton more than tripled from 2011 to 2012, Carrollton Police Chief Michael Willhoite said. Police arrested 58 people on drug-related charges in 2011. Drug arrests jumped to 201 last year, and this year looks to be on target to meet or exceed that total, he said.
"This heroin invasion is a relatively new phenomenon around here," Willhoite said.
Police have done what they can to curb the problems, which include serving warrants on people they've found selling narcotics or using drugs and collecting anonymous tips. Still, it's going to take more than law enforcement to stop the drug abuse in Carroll County - it's going to take the community's involvement and help.
Carrollton resident Jessica Herrell knows just how devastating drug abuse can be. She's spent nearly half her life using drugs off and on, and her brother died from a drug overdose a few years ago.
After sharing her story with media after warrants for drug charges were served, Herrell received a lot of feedback on social media about how drugs had affected other people and their families in the county.
On a whim, she began a social media account and planned a meeting at Point Park to discuss what could be done about the problems. Now she plans to use what she knows about fighting her own battle to help other Carroll County residents.
Herrell and other organizers of Hope Against Dope, a group trying to help combat drug problems in the county, plan to start programs and give support to addicts and recovering addicts in the community.
"With all of us, we've been to the bottom," she said, yet those tough lessons might be able to provide help to someone else struggling with their own battle.
Delaine Delehanty, another organizer of the group, said the first meeting was a small gathering, but more and more people seem to want to help and address issues as time goes on.
"Everyone sees there's a great need for support," Delehanty said.
Sheriff Jamie Kinman has never seen this kind of increased community involvement.
"I think it's going to change," Kinman said of the drug issues. "I don't think it's going to stop."
The community's awareness of the issues within the county is a good thing, he said. Willhoite agrees.
"I can't say as I've ever seen organized groups come together," Willhoite said. "I think it's great."
The police department plans to help the community be more aware of the issues by posting information about drug arrests from the past year on their website. Willhoite said photos, names, addresses and locations of where people were arrested will be posted soon.
"People need to know if their neighbor is involved in illegal narcotic activities," he said.
The police department project, like any other program focusing on drugs, is time consuming though, Willhoite said.
The Hope Against Dope group recognizes a fix for drug problems in Carroll County isn't an easy one, organizers said. They also recognize there are drug problems throughout the state and the nation.
Yet they're most worried about friends and neighbors close to home.
"We're focusing on Carroll County," Delehanty said.
The group continues to host community meetings at Point Park to discuss ideas, and some of those ideas have been put into use.
"We've already created a support group," Herrell said. "And we can branch out further and further."
A Prayer at the Point prayer circle has been planned by the group at 7 p.m. on Sept. 24.
The group already has other plans to set up a hotline so people can call if they need help or talk. Organizers plan to meet with an attorney to discuss any potential legal issues with the idea.
Organizers hope to set up a Nar-Anon group within the coming months to provide support for friends and family members of drug addicts.
They've also met with the county's probation and parole to work with people who have been arrested on drug charges or spent time at a rehabilitation facilities around the state.
"They're coming back to Carroll County," Herrell said. "Why not give them hope?"