While it’s no secret that Knox County has a drug problem, efforts toward eradicating it are not always known by the public. To be more transparent about the severity of the situation, Sheriff Mike Smith stopped by the Knox County Chamber of Commerce meeting to share information on drug trends in the area and what his office is doing to combat it.
“We are battling a serious drug problem,” said Smith, who noted the most predominately used drug in Knox is crystal methamphetamine. In this small county last year…we had 274 drug related arrests. Of those, over 40 were drug traffickers.”
The problem is not just isolated to Knox County, though. Approximately 1,000 people overdose every week in the United States, surpassing deaths from car crashes and gun violence.
“It’s alarming. We get complaints each and every day. I’d say probably 90 percent of the crime that we deal with is associated in some form with drugs,” continued Smith.
The fact of the matter is that drug use does not just impact the person, but the whole community by leading to theft, burglaries, domestic violence, fraud, violent assaults and murders.
It negatively affects our children, too. When police make a drug arrest, children often become displaced in the foster system. Furthermore, a lot of Knox County children are currently being raised by grandparents due to parental drug use, creating a generational gap.
“That’s a traumatic event for a child and these kids are having to deal with a lot,” continued Smith.
Despite the startling facts, Smith reports he, his deputies and staff work around-the-clock to combat this.
“We target mid and upper-level dealers. In the last couple years, the Federal government has adopted probably 10 of our cases…because they were that serious,” said Smith.
Help is available for those who want it. Along with working with UNITE, Smith has free drug test kits available at the Sheriff’s Department on Court Square. Kentucky State Police also has the Angel Initiative. Anyone with a drug problem can go into a Kentucky State Police post, come clean about their addiction and police will help get them into a rehabilitation facility that day rather than make an arrest.