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KSP officer educates community about street drugs

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'I believe 90 percent of all crime comes back to drugs.'

By Calen McKinney

 

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It's a problem in Taylor County, he said, and the community needs to take notice.

They don't target any specific gender, race or socioeconomic status, and it can only take one time for someone to become addicted.

Kentucky State Police Public Affairs Officer Billy Gregory spoke on Tuesday about the street drugs popular in Taylor County.

The class, hosted at Taylor Regional Hospital's Learning & Resource Center, was open and free to the public.

Gregory, an 18-year KSP veteran, has been involved in a variety of investigations, from cold checks to homicide. And while he says he won't claim to be an expert, he believes drugs are the fuel for nine out of 10 crimes committed today.

"I believe that 90 percent of all crime comes back to drugs," he said.

And because drugs are a large problem, Gregory said, KSP troopers formed the Drug Enforcement Special Investigations group to investigate it.

Gregory said he often gets a "tip" that someone's neighbor is selling drugs. He said the person reports there are cars coming to and from the person's home at all hours of the day.

"It's a pretty good indicator that something is going on," he said.

But real life isn't like what's depicted on crime shows, Gregory said, and there are many channels that have to be followed to investigate crimes. Crime isn't solved in an hour, he said.

"That's not real life."

Marijuana is the most used illicit drug today, Gregory said.

"It's the No. 1 cash crop in the state of Kentucky," he said. "It makes more revenue than tobacco."

And while some might say they have heard that heroin and cocaine are abused in Taylor County, and they are, Gregory said, they still aren't used to the extent that marijuana is used.

Gregory said marijuana is very accessible and users are very inventive about how they use it, from putting it in cigars to highlighters.

An effort to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes is ongoing, Gregory said, and the KSP won't take a stand on the issue.

"We don't create laws, we enforce them," he said.

Though it's not at a pandemic level, heroin use is being seen more and more, Gregory said.

"So I'd be looking for more of that," he said. "There's always something next."

Heroin is being made into a pill form now, Gregory said, which shows creativity used by drug dealers and users.

"And the bad guys are really good at it, because they like money," he said. "Addicts are inventive and creative and they're finding ways to invent things."

Gregory said he has heard some drug users have begun using heroin because of the rising cost of prescription pills.

Gregory said crack cocaine is more addictive than powder cocaine, and those attending the class said they see patients at TRH using both.

When responding to a domestic violence call once, Gregory said, the woman told troopers, "I just thought he didn't like me anymore." But what was happening, Gregory said, was her husband was abusing cocaine.

"It's really important to know that drugs know no socioeconomic boundaries," he said. "It has no color. It's everywhere here."

Gregory said he asked a DESI investigator to name the Top 3 abused drugs in his area, which includes Taylor County. The Top 3, Gregory said, are prescription drugs, marijuana and cocaine.

Prescription drugs, he said, are a real problem. He said teenagers today sometimes get the pills from their parents or buy pills for as much as $20 each.

"I mean, it's just so readily accessible," Gregory said.

He said items used as drug supplies are readily available at convenient and other stores.

"People aren't rolling their own cigarettes these days," he said. "Anything can be drug paraphernalia."

Legislators took a step toward reducing the drug problem when banning drugs such as spice that mirror marijuana. And laws put in place last year to reduce pill mills and limiting the purchase of drugs used to make methamphetamine have helped. But banning those drugs, Gregory said, has also created a black market for them.

Methamphetamine is a very addictive drug, he said, and those who use it can expect to live about seven years after they start.

"Ninety percent of all meth users become addicted," he said. "Nine out of 10 who try it for the first time become addicts."

And while methamphetamine might not be in the Top 3 drugs used in the western DESI area, Gregory said it's still abused in Taylor County.

Drug addicts, Gregory said, are completely consumed by their addiction.

"Have a plan when you confront these people," he said.

Addicts sometimes become suicidal when they believe they have exhausted all ways to quit their drug but haven't been successful.

"It's a cry for help obviously," Gregory said. "Some would rather be locked up then deal with the dependency."

Gregory said society today emphasizes instant gratification, which further fuels the drug problem.

"We want the quick fix," he said. "We want to fix the symptom, not the problem.

"We have to collectively work to solve the problem. We've got to work together as a community."

Gregory said everyone will likely experience some drug abuse in their family. But the solution to the problem, he said, doesn't have to be a badge and handcuffs.

"Talk to your kids," he said. "Get out in front of it."