Attend Crime Summit

Sullivan Police Lt. Patrick Johnson, left, and Chief George Counts attended a crime and substance abuse summit held Friday, Jan. 10, at East Central College. The summit was sponsored by the Foundations of Franklin County as an opportunity for community leaders to address crime and substance abuse issues in Franklin County. There were about 70 people who took part in the summit.  Missourian Photo.

Three main strategic proposals were established at the close of the Franklin County Crime and Substance Abuse Summit last Friday.

Close to 70 people attended the three-hour summit held at East Central College.

Those included community leaders, law enforcement officials, school superintendents, state legislators, health and mental health officials, judges and representatives from the prosecuting attorney’s office as well as juvenile officers, probation and parole officials and defense attorneys.

“It went really well. We had really good participation from all over Franklin County and from all walks of life,” said Detective Sgt. Jason Grellner, commander of the Franklin County Narcotics Enforcement Unit.

The summit was sponsored by Foundations for Franklin County Inc., the not-for-profit agency associated with the drug task force and is dedicated to drug awareness education and rehabilitation.

The first part of the forum involved six presentations by professionals in different fields who outlined the available resources and resource gaps in Franklin County, Grellner said.

“Then we broke up into smaller groups, each one facilitated by a Foundations member, to discuss what we had heard and develop lists of the shortfalls and strategies for covering those shortfalls,” Grellner told The Missourian.

Following those discussions, the full group came back together and developed the three strategic ideas, Grellner said.

Those included:

• Work with health, mental health and rehabilitation professionals to develop a detox and long-term rehabilitation program and facilities for Franklin County. There currently are no such resources available in the county.

• Work to better educate the public, primarily by targeting youth and their parents, about the dangers of substance abuse.

The D.A.R.E. program was discussed, but it is taught only in the fifth grade, Grellner noted.

“We want to get back to teaching kids in upper grades so they can make the right decisions when they’re faced with drug or alcohol use issues,” he commented.

“We also want to get the word out to parents so they are better educated about these issues,” Grellner said.

• Continuing to work on finding funding sources to pay for education and rehabilitation services.

Grellner said the committee plans to address funding issues with legislators to possibly find a better use of Department of Corrections funding for rehabilitation. Another source may be to add fees to court cases to fund those services or go back to the voters with the issuing of increasing the tax on alcohol sales to fund rehab services around the state, he said.

Participants in the forum were invited to join the HOPE for Franklin County Coalition which meets each month at the Foundations office on Highway A at Krakow.