“You guys do it better than any county we got.” That comment about Knox County really sounded good! Especially, since it came from an outsider – the Deputy Director for Operation Unite, Tom Vicini.
Tom was explaining why Knox was chosen from 32 counties to be the “pilot program” and first Kentucky County to get funding for the new “Handle with Care” program. I was delighted as he explained, from his perspective, how many different organizations and agencies in our county are working so well and closely together. He bragged on our law enforcement agencies, B.P.D., Sheriff and KSP. He also praised the local school systems, and agencies like Knox County Ambulance service, KCEOC, and others for their spirit of cooperation.
I was more excited that, because of their efforts, Knox will get funding for a wonderful program. “Handle with care” is designed to help many of our local school age children impacted by parental drug activity. Sure, we still have too many addicts, plus stubbornly high unemployment and poverty rates. (*See chart below.) But in this case, cooperation between cops and schools within our county may literally save lives – and maybe, just maybe, even break generational cycles of drug addiction and poverty. How cool is that?
Dan Smoot from the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and his agency should be celebrated for bringing this vital program to Kentucky. We also applaud Superintendents Kelly Sprinkles and Larry Warren, Sheriff Mike Smith, and Barbourville Police Chief Winston Tye, along with Operation Unite Chair Claudia Greenwood. Collectively, their focus on helping our youth, not on making it easy for themselves or their organization, made this possible.
I think we should wish them all the best as they continue working to get this program rolled out early next year. What do you think?