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Charges pending against two adults— Concern over youth, drugs

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On Sunday, May 11, police were called to a home on Fairfield Pike, where a weekend party had taken place involving local middle school and high school aged youth, as well as at least two adults. Following an investigation, police found that large amounts of alcohol and marijuana had been consumed by minors at the residence at 210 Fairfield Pike from Friday, May 9, through that Sunday. Police are seeking charges against the two adults who were present during the party.

The charges police submitted to the Greene County prosecutor last week include possession of drugs, underage consumption of alcohol, child endangering and contributing to the delinquency of minors. Police expect the charges to be approved soon, Yellow Springs Police Chief Anthony Pettiford said this week.

“There were no other illegal substances located at that residence,” Pettiford said in a press release last week. “Due to the sensitivity and juvenile involvement in this case, no other information will be given at this time.”

Since the incident occurred, rumors have circulated that other drugs were involved and that several people at the party were involved in an assault. However, police did not find evidence of an assault.

The investigation substantiated Pettiford’s experience that alcohol is the most highly abused drug among local youth. Though harder drugs are likely available in the village, police don’t see it much, he said. When police spoke with a group of Yellow Springs High School students last spring about their impressions regarding drug use among their peers, “their number one concern was alcohol — drugs didn’t really come up so much as alcohol comsumption,” Pettiford said.

Local parent Alisa Meier isn’t so sure. When she talks to local youth, they say kids smoke a lot of marijuana and experiment with other drugs, such as cocaine, crack and heroin. She and local resident Kate Crews also believe that some local youth may be buying ruhypnol, otherwise known as the date rape drug, and using it as sexual predators.

Though most drugs are likely available in town, Pettiford isn’t seeing much of it in criminal investigations with either youth or adults. The toxicology report from the May 11 incident did not show evidence of ruhypnol, Yellow Springs Sergeant Naomi Penrod reported last week.

In the wider world, it’s heroin that’s stealing the current headlines. Nationally and statewide, heroin, which generally sells for $10 a cap, has become one of the cheapest ways to get a soaring high. Heroin cases handled by the Ohio Highway Patrol increased from 198 in 2010 to 670 last year. And because it is often laced with synthetic fentanyl, heroin-related deaths investigated by the Ohio Attorney General increased from 315 in 2010 to 725 in 2012. In the Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network’s study of the Dayton region last year, a Miami Valley crime lab professional reported, “We’re not that far from being able to say that heroin is our most prevalent drug, and I mean it’s always been marijuana.”

Heroin is in Yellow Springs as well. The Greene County combined drug task force has seen it, as well as some LSD, according to task force Director Bruce May this week. And Janice Sherman, director of alcohol and drug services for TCN Behavioral Health, has seen a dramatic uptick in requests for heroin addiction services, including from Yellow Springs residents. Heroin addicts are “far and away the biggest portion of individuals walking in the door.” Some come for any of four levels of outpatient treatment, including counseling and the option of detoxification drugs, or the residential program, which currently has a waiting list of 33 men, higher than Sherman has ever seen it.
“It’s definitely, without a doubt, related to the heroin epidemic,” she said.

But Chief Pettiford hasn’t actively persued a heroin case in Yellow Springs since last year, and that was relatively isolated, he said. Other hard drugs, such as crack, methamphetamines, or even ecstasy, in the village have also been rare since Pettiford stepped in as chief two years ago.

“Fortunately we don’t see heroin and crack here,” he said. “To say that it’s not down here is not accurate — but do we deal with it? No.”

It’s difficult to gauge how many young people use drugs, but according to Yellow Springs High School and McKinney middle school Principal Tim Krier, the school-related drug incidents that have occurred over the past four years have been limited to alcohol, marijuana, tobacco and a little prescription medication. During his first year as principal in 2010 the school had half a dozen incidents of kids smoking marijuana and cigarettes on and off the school property during and after school and at school dances and functions. The following year the incident count rose to over a dozen students doing similar things, including some drug purchasing.

“That seemed like a lot,” Krier said this week.

In the third year the school initiated a program with a certified, third-party drug counselor from TCN and became more proactive with both stricter policies (driven in part by students) as well as counseling as an initial response. That year, the school had zero incidents of drug and alcohol use, and this past year, there were two, including one self-referral for marijuana use. The school has not dealt with heroin or ruhypnol at all, and it does offer annual group mentoring (Girls Night Out, Boys Night Out), which includes discussions about drug use and sexual consent. The programs have focused heavily on making students aware that sexual “consent can’t be given by anyone under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” he said.

The school’s statistics bear out those of the Dayton Area Drug Survey taken biennially by about 3,000 teenagers in the Miami Valley, including Yellow Springs. According to the 2012 study, alcohol is still the most widely abused drug for school-age youth, followed closely by marijuana and then tobacco cigarettes. Among area seniors, 42 percent said they had drunk to the point of “drunkenness” 10 or more times, while 44 percent said they had smoked marijuana at least once. Just seven and eight percent, respectively, said they smoked marijuana or cigarettes daily. And only a small fraction of the seniors said they used harder drugs, such as prescription opioids, heroin, crack cocaine, steroids, meth and ecstasy/MDMA.

For Yellow Springs seniors in particular, the numbers appeared to generally follow the regional trends, though use for tobacco and marijuana were slightly higher here, according to Lisa Cron of the Greene County Education Service Center, who helps to administer the survey. Locally, 71 percent of seniors said they had used alcohol within 30 days of the survey, while 50 percent said they had smoked marijuana, and 26 percent smoked cigarettes. Much smaller numbers, 6 percent of seniors, said they had used ecstasy, cocaine, opiates or smokeless tobacco within 30 days of the survey, while 3 percent said they had used heroin, crack, diet pills or other stimulants.

Both police and school officials believe in education programs that help students to handle both their own addiction issues and drug issues that arise for their peers. The school isn’t shy about contacting parents about even minor signs, such as grades dropping for no reason or kids joking about drugs, according to Krier. And students themselves are designing some of the programs, such as the SASSI test the school uses when a student is caught intoxicated to determine the severity of the incident and design a recovery plan to match it. The signs of unrest, such as fights, are fairly low, with an average of maybe two small fights per year in school, Krier said.

“There certainly are drug issues here, but the good news is that most of our kids are making good, healthy choices.”

The News will publish updates on the charges from the May 11 incident in next week’s print edition.


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