- Eric Schwartzberg Staff Writer
An interactive program on how everyday items are used to conceal drugs was an eye-opener for many parents and community members.
As part of efforts to inform about the latest drug threats youth face, the Fairfield Prevention Coalition hosted Operation: Street Smart earlier this month.
Parents and community members filled the newly built Fairfield Freshman School for the program that exposed how everyday items can be used to hide alcohol, tobacco, prescription medications, and illegal drugs.
Some examples of “diversion safes” where drugs can be hidden in plain sight: hollowed out hair brushes, over-the-counter medicine bottles, and even make-up and baking ingredient containers.
“It blew me away,” said Deborah Neyer, the Fairfield Prevention Coalition’s executive director. She booked Operation: Street Smart after seeing a presentation in Oxford two years ago.
“I’ve been teaching a drugs class at Miami University for 10 years and I learned so much in that two-hour period that I felt that the parents in Fairfield had to see this,” she said.
“I think a lot of people find the benefit in seeing and actually … touching these items that we’ve either seized, confiscated during search warrants, traffic stops, or items that we’ve purchased undercover in head shops or the corner stores in the community,” said Sgt. Dan Johnson of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, which started Operation: Street Smart in 2002. “That way, if they encounter them in their day-to-day lives, they’ll better be able to identify them.”
Data the Fairfield Prevention Coalition has collected indicates that parents were not talking to their children about drugs like they used to, Neyer said.
“We felt it was very important, that maybe parents … were hearing a lot about marijuana in the news with all of the legislation that was coming through and that maybe there was starting to be a little bit of a gray area and that they didn’t feel like that black and white about drug use any more,” she said. “We wanted to for them to know that number one, it’s very dangerous, and for them to feel comfortable in taking a strong stand on that and for them to know enough to have a conversation with their youth.”
Operation: Street Smart presenters also stressed that if anyone they know is using or abusing a drug, chances are any evidence of that drug is going to be scarce.
“What you’re going to find is artifacts of the drug abuse, some type of drug paraphernalia, like some of the items we showed here tonight,” Johnson said.