An area sheriff whose jail facility was closed a month ago, has released an editorial that outlines his thoughts regarding the closing and what types of funding and programming are needed in the area. Click to hear KMZU’s Kristie Cross talk to Sheriff Steve Cox:
According to Cox, the drug problem continues to grow and is now more prevalent than he’s seen during his 27 years in law enforcement. “You look at the whole range of issues with it, as far as how drug crimes take place, who they impact, the types of victims, and collateral damage,” said Cox,” People will burglarize and steal just to feed their habit. It has significant impact on families and children. The habits are engrained in those people when they’re young.”
Even though the recent closing of his jail facility has drawn a lot of discussion, the Sheriff feels attention needs to be focused on working to solve the wide range of problems associated with this issue. “I don’t mean to sound disrespectful to the courts, my own office, or my profession, but what we’re doing now I don’t think is enough. I would much rather see us as a community, state, and country come together and find ways to address the needs for all of the mental health and dependency issues.”
According to Cox, drug abuse is worse today than he has seen in his 27 years of law enforcement. He cites both illegal and prescription drugs as part of this growing epidemic and asks citizens of his county to work together in the battle.
Editorial in Full:
Over the last few weeks I have spoken with lots of people and received numerous questions on the status of the Livingston County Jail and how business is going with holding inmates at the Daviess Dekalb County Regional Jail (DDCRJ). We are a month into holding inmates outside of our jail facility it is fair to report things are going exceptionally well.
Probably the most often asked question I receive is “Aren’t you guys on the road all the time transporting prisoners?” We seldom transport prisoners to the DDCRJ as in our agreement they pickup the inmates from our facility in a timely manner and transport the detainees to all Court appearances and for medical care. Actually in the last month we have been able to spend much more time on criminal investigations, patrol, and spending time in area schools. Just this month we have probably been in our rural schools more then we were in all of 2012. We have also been able to alter our work schedule so that we have more staff on evening and night shift then before as we do not have to spend as much time assisting the detention officers in jail duties and guarding or transporting inmates.
I/we understand there are trade offs in not having the jail open here. Just as there is good and bad with about everything, we are far more pleased with being better able to serve our citizens.
I have been asked if we should have or devote more tax money to renovating or replacing the jail facility. Today I put that question to the public on our website poll and you may place your vote at www.livcoso.org. Our polls permit one vote per IP address (or one vote per computer) and we are NOT able to determine which IP addresses respond to our poll questions.
An issue I am very concerned with is the number of people we have in our community who are abusing illegal and prescription drugs. Virtually each day we obtain and share information with other agencies on the numbers of people abusing, selling, distributing, or manufacturing drugs. In my 27 plus years of law enforcement in this community I believe drug abuse is worse now then it ever has been. The most common drugs of abuse in our area continue to be methamphetamine, opiate based pain killer prescription drugs, marijuana and synthetic marijuana. We frequently hear of more people seeking Ecstasy, heroin, cocaine, and other prescription drugs to support their habits’.
Drug violations are often difficult to investigate as most people seldom hold the drugs for any time. Unlike a business that has inventory most drug dealers quickly move their products and limit their time in possession. A lot of drug deals are set up via text messages, social media communication, and a quick meet often in a public place or parking lot. Many of the users quickly ingest their drug of choice to limit the time they may be caught in by law enforcement. Mere possession by consumption is not illegal but is often a violation of someone’s probation, parole, or bond conditions.
It would amaze you the lifestyles of these people as for many the only time they are not talking, texting, or communicating about drugs, abuse, and that lifestyle is when and if they do sleep. Too often we see these people far more loyal to their drug supplier then their family or religion.
In my opinion, if people want more funding for our office, instead of renovating or replacing our jail, I would rather see tax money be dedicated in working to solve the wide range of drug problems we have. Enforcement of drug laws is only one step and the message I get from the State of Missouri is they do not want drug offenders in prison. Those people who are suffering from addictions need opportunities for immediate counseling, treatment, and education which is seldom if at all available in rural Missouri.
Law Enforcement needs the time, staff, and funds to organize and work more with all of our school children in addition to better enforce the drug laws. People suffering from abuse need to be able to openly receive the support they need and set/meet goals instead of living in fear. Too many generations have been lost in this drug cycle and the current methods of operation are not proving adequate results for society. I believe the only way to change this is for all of us to band together, organize, and help. Every person with a drug addiction is still someone’s son, daughter, or grandchild. If their life is lost in the addiction we need to focus on saving their childre’s lives from that same path.
There should be zero tolerance for those profiting through selling, manufacturing, and distributing what I call the death drugs such as methamphetamine. These people are virtually aiding in the destruction of lives, families, and our future generations.
From what I have described in this editorial is not unique or only in Livingston County. There are many communities in Missouri much worse then we are but the problem exists in every community in this country. I think it is time we raise the bar and lead by example and that will take significant dedication and commitment from much more then just law enforcement. I for one am willing, are you?
Thank you for reading this editorial. Please be safe.