McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State news

October 2, 2013

Officials stress education of kids in drug fight

ENID, Okla. — More than 30 years in law enforcement changed Dub Turner’s perspective a lot.

“When I started working in enforcement, I had one goal, one mission,” Turner told nearly 200 people at Monday’s Oklahoma Drug Endangered Children conference in Enid. “All the drugs I can get off the streets make my kids safer.”

The education program director for Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics explained how he sees it now.

“We have to do a better job of educating our children,” Turner said.

Turner, at a conference with youth who had undergone drug treatment, asked them what the first drug they’d used had been. Nearly all of them said alcohol. One girl said heroin. Her uncle had given it to her in order to molest her at age 12.

Youth grow up being inundated with images portraying drug use as “cool,” Turner said.

“We have to recognize that we have to put ourselves in a position to make a difference,” Turner said.

Law enforcement typically has handled children in ways that are most expedient for themselves, Turner said. They plan drug arrests when children are gone to school for the day, or tell the person they are going to arrest to call someone to come get the children because they are going to jail.

“When we don’t talk and we don’t work together, the children fall through the cracks,” Turner said.

Vanessa Price, a longtime Oklahoma City police officer involved with Oklahoma County Drug Court for many years, also spoke at the conference.

“If we’re going to truly have an impact on the future of our state, we’re going to have to have multidisciplinary teams,” Price said. “This is not about removing children from homes, but about ensuring children are safe in the environments they are in.”

Nearly half the people crowded into the room were law enforcement officers. A large number of the remaining conference attendees were therapists.

More often than not, it’s the innocent children who end up suffering the most from drug use, Price said. Parents who are on drugs are not likely to do a good job of taking care of the children.

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