Substance abuse reached epidemic levels across the U.S. decades ago. Addiction is a chronic disease that does not discriminate based on age, gender, race or socio-economic status. It’s an illness that affects family members, employees, friends, neighbors ,and everyone in between. Successful substance abuse initiatives require collaboration and a balance between prevention, enforcement, treatment, and recovery services. Over the past several months the Newton Police Department, in collaboration with numerous community stakeholders, has worked diligently to identify the scope of the substance abuse issue in Jasper County and has implemented several new strategies in an effort to address the problem from a more holistic perspective.

Narcotics K9 Unit

In Spring 2016, through a public and private partnership, the Newton Police Department implemented a narcotics K9 unit for the first time in nearly 30 years. K9 Smokey received training in the detection of marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. In K9 Smokey’s first 6 months of work he was deployed 32 times on narcotics related cases and assisted in the seizure of narcotics having a street value over $10,000.

Substance Abuse Coalition

In November 2016, the Newton Police Department was awarded a technical assistance JAG grant through the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy. The grant partners the Alliance of Coalitions for Change, the Midwest Counter Drug Training Center, and the Newton Police Department together to develop a community wide coalition of stakeholders to begin addressing the community substance abuse issues in a more collaborative and strategic manner. To date, nearly 40 stakeholder groups ranging from large manufactures to pharmacies, government agencies to non-profits have been involved in the formation of the coalition. The following strategies have been identified to address the issues; develop community awareness, create a legislative agenda, create an after care support network, solicit the development of a local treatment center, create youth program and address housing concerns. The group meets monthly and participation is open to any organization or individual wanting to help make a difference in the community.

Prescription Drug Drop Box

The Newton Police Department received a $900 grant from the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy for the installation of a prescription drug drop box to address the increasing issue of prescription drug abuse. The box is located in the lobby of the Police Department and is available for public drop off of unused prescription drugs during regular business hours.