2 Amigos staff had their hands full trying to keep up with a room filled to capacity for the Knox UNITE meeting Tuesday.
Why the huge turnout?
Knox County Sheriff Mike Smith was the guest speaker.
Sheriff Smith began by explaining how his department, although still small by his standards, has grown significantly in the past six months from four officers in January to seven officers, including a UNITE narcotics officer, at the current time. Each officer, he was proud to say, is academy trained and certified.
Drugs, he agreed, are everywhere in the city, and he and his deputies are taking a proactive stance on drugs. The main drug of choice in this area, he said, is methamphetamine. Prescription drugs Suboxone (prescribed to help kick the meth habit) and oxycodone (a narcotic pain drug) are second and third with heroine quickly making its way onto the list.
The sheriff then gave a brief rundown of the number of drug-related arrests his department has made just since January. These included:
• 15 Public Intoxication/Drugs
• 21 Control Substance not in Original Container
• 40 Possession of Controlled Substance
• 30 Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
• 5 Promoting Contraband
• 19 DUI/Drugs
•11 Trafficking in Marijuana
• 4 Possession of Marijuana
“We haven’t seen the crocodile drug take hold yet,” he said, “but we’re watching for it.” This new drug, he explained, is a drug that gives a euphoric high, but deteriorates the flesh.
Looking to the future, Sheriff Smith announced his department has future plans to go out and speak to community youth about the dangers of drugs. He is also hoping to start up some neighborhood watch programs.
The sheriff’s department is also looking forward to getting a Facebook page up online and setting up a drug tip hotline.
“People need to know we probably won’t respond right away,” the sheriff said of the hotline. “There are procedures and an investigation that has to be performed before we can go running in and arresting someone.”
Although, the department is running well, the sheriff explained there are a few challenges to putting together a new department.
“We are still in need of extra funding,” he said. “We need that funding for more people and more equipment. Right now we are in need of bullet-proof vests, but there simply is no funding at this time. We’re expecting to get some extra money through asset forfeitures. This will help us buy additional weapons and cruisers.”
Pastor Shane Nickell of First Baptist Church asked the sheriff how much a bullet-proof vest would cost and was told it would cost about $550 for each vest.
Sheriff Smith compliment the Knox UNITE program on its innovative and ongoing programs dedicated to the youth of Knox County, and said he and his department are looking forward to partnering with UNITE in the future.