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Default 10-07-2005, 11:32 AM

What was once considered a big city problem is steadily working its way into the suburbs, and the West Allegheny area is no exception.

"Drug and alcohol abuse is as common in our society as candy bars and jelly beans," said Findlay Township Police Chief Paul Wilks.

While the West Allegheny suburbs may not have the extent of drug problems that major cities do, drugs certainly are not absent in the area.

"Any school district or community that tells you that they do not have some type of narcotics problem in their school or their community -- they are kidding themselves," said Wilks.

In Findlay Township this year, eight drug arrests have been made and five drug investigations are ongoing or complete. In North Fayette, 29 drug arrests have been made this year.

Wilks said he has not seen an increase or decrease in Findlay's overall drug activity in recent years, but has noticed an increase in heroin usage.

North Fayette records present a different case in drug activity, showing a drastic increase in drug arrests since 2001.

There were six drug arrests in 2001, eight in 2002, 15 in 2003, 24 in 2004 and 29 this year. The records also show that the number of juvenile drug arrests has remained relatively steady, while the number of adult drug arrests has increased.

North Fayette Police Chief Michael Smith said that adults in their late teens and early 20s are the biggest users of heroin, which has become more popular in recent years.

North Fayette records show that heroin has become as common as marijuana in the township, with 22 heroin arrests and 23 marijuana arrests since 2003.

Smith partially attributes the increase to the fact that some young adults between the ages of 18 and 22 are under the wrong impression that snorting the drug will not cause them to become addicted to it.

Smith said he does not know where the idea came from, and that only a small percentage of heroin addicts ever fully recover from their addictions.

"It affects all races and individuals. It's a drug that's hitting everyone, from children of professionals to children who have drug abuse in the family," he said.

In addition to the increasing usage of heroin, crack cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine are also present in the area.

Smith said he believes the crack cocaine usage has decreased, while methamphetamine usage has increased because it is cheap and easy to manufacture using over-the-counter drugs and household items. Oakdale police officer Jim Lauria says he has also seen over-the-counter drugs being abused.

He said he could recall a couple of cases in which individuals took the cold medicine Coricidin and then drank alcohol, causing them to experience a "drunken stupor" and hallucinations.

None of the officers could pinpoint exactly where the drugs are coming from, but all said people are leaving the area to purchase them, and then returning to sell them or share them with friends.

"As long as there's a consumer, drugs come into the community," said Lauria.

He said There is no one place in particular that drug deals or usage occur in West Allegheny, making it difficult for police to track.

It usually happens behind the closed doors of residences, where police can not go without a warrant and appropriate probable cause. Appropriate, probable cause is often difficult to get and takes a lot of time, according to Wilks.

"It's not like every time we get a complaint we can go and do that," he said.

Departments work with District Attorney Narcotics Enforcement Team (DANET) on such cases and use undercover officers or informants to create a chain of evidence that would lead to a warrant and an arrest.

DANET includes police departments throughout Allegheny County that work together on drug-related investigations.

Drug use not only affects the user and his or her friends and family. Often, it causes criminal activity in the community to rise.

Smith said many of the drug arrests made in North Fayette are made while making retail theft arrests.

"It's usually not people who are starving that are stealing. It's usually people trying to support their habit," he said.

Even "America's Hometown," as Oakdale Borough is sometimes called, has seen evidence of drug-related crimes.

"Crime that we've had is, or can easily be, related to a need for money to support a drug addiction," said Lauria.

Thefts of items that can be sold easily, such weapons, jewelry and television equipment are often connected with drug addictions, according to Lauria.

While Oakdale has not seen burglary incidents of occupied homes, it has seen an increasing number of break-ins at abandoned homes, where burglars strip copper pipes.

"They can sell the copper for some immediate money," explained Lauria.

Lauria, along with Wilks and Smith, urge residents to report any suspicious activity in their community immediately.

In addition to the departments' participation in DANET, Officer John Bates from North Fayette and Sgt. Don Sedlacek and Jeff O'Donnell from Findlay work together to bring the school district the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program.

The program has been in place for several years, but has recently changed its philosophy to include more information regarding the dangers of heroin, according to Smith.

"I think we're doing everything we can think of to do," said Wilks. "I can't emphasize enough the importance of the cooperation of the departments," he said.
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Default 10-07-2005, 04:02 PM

Originally posted by drdĒv€@Oct 7 2005, 10:32 AM
None of the officers could pinpoint exactly where the drugs are coming from..........He said There is no one place in particular that drug deals or usage occur in West Allegheny, making it difficult for police to track.................
Bahahah! That's where I live. Idiot officers, all the drugs come from Export, if you morons would just put a police station there instead of borrowing from Monroville or Murrysville or Delmont, then maybe they could see that. Export needs cleaning up, they don't need just one traffic cop who thinks he's hidden behind the Export Tires building.

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