From The Trussville Tribune staff reports
ARGO — An officer with the Argo Police Department brought a proposal before the Argo City Council to begin a class on illegal drugs at City Hall, an idea that the council approved of on Monday night.
Sgt. Mike Jennings brought up concerns about recent crimes in Argo centering around drugs, saying that as much as over 60 percent of traffic stops are drug-related. He hopes that the class will reach people at an age where they can understand the effects of narcotics. The target age group is five to 18-years-old.
“These are basically the kids coming in the schools and coming up in the schools,” Jennings told the council. “They need to know what drugs look like, they need to know what they are, they need to know what they can do to them. Most of our crime is surrounded around drugs. If it’s domestic violence, if it’s theft, burglary – anything like that, it’s all centered around drugs.”
“And it’s my belief that if we can get to the kids at that age and bring them through school knowing what the drugs can do to them, maybe they won’t be so haphazardly ready to try it.”
The Foundation for a Drug Free World provided Jennings with free publications that can be used at classes, which would take place every three months.
“We have schools all around us now,” Jennings said. “I think it would be a good idea to access all of those children at this point in their life instead of accessing them when they get out of high school and they’re already five years into the drug scene.”
One of the materials provided to Jennings is a video with interviews of addicts whose lives were impacted by drug use. Subjects of the class would cover marijuana, alcohol, synthetic drugs, ecstasy, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, inhalants, heroin, LSD, prescription drugs and Ritalin.
Jennings said that abuse of Ritalin and Adderall were “on the rise again”, being used by people in college or high stress occupations such as Wall Street. He also said that kids are not being as educated as they should be.
“The kids that I want to target are not being taught enough,” he said. “They get a 20 minute seminar at school saying drugs are bad and that is our upper government’s way of battle drugs. It’s not battling anything.”
Jennings’ wife, Kristie, spoke on their children’s peers being victims of drug use.
“Our oldest son this year and last year has had six kids that he graduated with either die from an overdose or from a car wreck because they were on drugs,” she told the council.
But the class would not just be for children. Anyone in the public would be welcome to take part.
“This is not just for the kids but to start educating the public as well to make sure that the public understands and recognizes what drugs are doing, how they affect people and how they start happening,” Jennings said.
He hopes to get the St. Clair County board of education to send students to Argo for the class. Students from the surrounding area can attend as part of educational field trips. Jennings also said that he hopes that the class would encourage younger people to help others in their age groups to reject drugs.
“My kids were exposed to this all of their life,” he said. “It was in our house, I was a K9 officer. They knew what the drugs were, they knew what they looked like, they knew not to touch them and everything was taught to them. They recognize it, they go to their friends. Peer pressure works the same way in reverse.”
The Argo City Council voted unanimously to accept Jennings’ proposal. A date for the class has not been established yet.