Editorial: Misplaced priorities?

For budgetary and personnel reasons, according to Rappahannock County Sheriff Connie C. Smith, the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office no longer participates in the State Police-sponsored Blue Ridge Narcotics and Gangs Task Force. The neighboring counties of Fauquier, Culpeper, Greene, Madison and Orange, however, seem to have found the money and manpower necessary to participate.

Of the Task Force’s 265 investigations last year, seven occurred in Rappahannock despite the county’s lack of official participation.

An estimated nine percent of 12- to 17-year-olds in Virginia have used illicit drugs in the past month, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Anecdotal evidence suggests that percentage is probably even higher here in Rappahannock.

For rural areas of the country have been especially hard hit by cheap heroin and stolen prescription drugs. In pastoral Vermont, for example, youthful addiction is so bad now that the governor devoted his annual State of the State address solely to what he termed “a full-blown heroin crisis.”

The very remoteness of rural areas — and corresponding limited supply of drugs — means the profit margins can be that much bigger than for traditional big-city drug trafficking. And the demand is high — from “bored” teenagers with “nothing to do, stuck in the middle of nowhere.”

Thus, according to people who study such things, a bag of heroin can be bought in large cities for as little as $4, but can be sold for $30 — or more! — in rural areas.

In the meantime, law-enforcement patrol vehicles on U.S. 211 and 522 are on the vigilant lookout for cars inadvertently cruising a few miles over the posted speed limit.

Walter Nicklin

1 Comment

  1. Although I respect his desire to confront the scourge of addiction, I believe he needs to reevaluate his priorities. I tip my hat to the county Deputies who keep the roads safe for driving. He in his cruiser, coffee and radar gun in his lap, he’s a part of the landscape and our rural tapestry while these quasi-military outfits are a troubling addition to it.

    But thankfully society is starting to realize the enormous folly of the “War on Drugs”. (That reminds me, we should start a “War on Snow” around here, it’d be just as effective).

    Breaking up families because one of it’s members is ill is not working. Imprisoning 10 percent of our population, a la China and Iran, octupling the prison population is crazy, so crazy, that “octuple” isn’t even a word.

    I’m not ashamed to say I myself struggle with an addiction to cigarettes. Even after watching 2 grandparents wither and die die from smoking related illness I stupidly continue to go back to the pack. Luckily I can find my fix at several local establishments.

    I don’t know what the solution is, but I think it’s become obvious that tearing families apart, imprisoning Moms and Dads who made dumb mistakes, mistakes we’re all capable of making, isn’t getting us anywhere.

    I support Sheriff Smith’s decision. Perhaps she doesn’t think the Task Force requires anymore “Velcro” for those uniforms.

    I further support Attorney General Holder’s decision to reevaluate prison sentencing for non-violent drug offenders.

    Chris K.

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