Considering Iíve been at this court and crime beat for well over a year now, I really shouldnít be surprised by some of the things I hear and see on a daily basis from my little corner of the newsroom (or from my post in the courtroom, obviously). And if thereís one thing Iíve learned, itís this ... drugs and alcohol can be traced to the source of most crimes we see here in Chenango County, minus the welfare fraud recipients and not-so-occasional sexual predators who pass through the courtroom.
Sad, I know, and more than a little discouraging, but the truth is the truth, no matter how much we might want to avoid it.
And this is not a problem that is suffered only here, but across upstate New York, really. In fact, it was a special report on WBNG last night that caught my eye and was the inspiration behind todayís column. And I quote, ďA gritty, oftentimes dangerous undercurrent runs through the quiet towns and serene countryside of Delaware County, and itís costing resources and constant attention of law enforcement, who teeter daily on winning and losing the battle.Ē
Insert Chenango County into that sentence and ... well, I think you get my drift.
Last nightís story goes on to state that the ďdrug of choice is prescription, like the lucrative Oxycontin or Oxycodone, or an addiction rooted in it, like the cheaply made and sold heroinĒ and Ė this from Delaware County Undersheriff Craig DuMond Ė ďItís coming from all over the state ... we have drugs running from New York City to Albany then back to Syracuse and into Delaware County, in that region. Up and down the interstate corridors and such.Ē
Not that anyone should be surprised by that statement, as itís become painfully obvious that many of our local drug-related arrests include persons from the Utica, Binghamton and Syracuse areas. This makes sense, I suppose, if you look at a map of upstate New York. Letís see ... New York City to the aforementioned Binghamton is pretty much a straight shot. And then Iím guessing these dealers have to make their first choice; north to Syracuse along I-81 or north to Utica ... which would take them right smack-dab through the center of Norwich and Chenango County.
Regardless, it struck me as funny (in a disconcerting way) that WBNGís report was broadcast the same day I spoke with one of our area police chiefs concerning the possibility of a two- or three-part series focusing on heroin and what he called an ongoing epidemic here in Chenango County. And seeing as how Iíve already tackled bath salts and prescription drugs ... well, that made perfect sense to me (so keep an eye out for it).
And just for the record, this column should in no way be taken as a slam against our local law enforcement, who are out on the streets nabbing these dealers and putting their own lives on the line day in and day out; I applaud their efforts and think they do a fantastic job. Yet it seems we have the same problem here as in Delaware County. Said DuMond to WBNG, ďTo totally eradicate this problem, you know, it would take a small army, and the taxpayer canít afford a small army.Ē
That seems obvious, yet this problem will require a lot of manpower ... and manpower doesnít come cheap. Unfortunately, thereís really no choice here. If itís going to cost your average taxpayer more money to keep our streets safe for our children (and ourselves), weíre going to have to bite the proverbial bullet and foot the bill. Anything less and Iím honestly afraid itís game over.
Except this isnít a game, now is it?
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