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Fight against crime moving forward
Chris Cook - Forks Forum photo
Packets of illicit drugs taken as evidence by the Forks Police Department were on display at the Monday night crime watch meeting. They include meth, methadone, pot and heroin.
A display of illicit drugs, a positive report on crime prevention and crime solving, a report on anti-drug actions at Forks High School and more highlighted the third in the City of Forks crime watch series of meetings.
The gathering was again held at the Forks Elks Lodge and drew about 50 people including Mayor Bryon Mononhon, Forks Police Department Administrator Rick Bart. FPD officers, Forks school officials and local residents.
Updates were given on progress in the ongoing fight back against a wave of burglaries, robberies and drug sales that came to a head earlier this year.
Bart said a Forks police commission is now meeting and providing valuable insights for him and the Forks Police Department. The public is invited to the next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 6. He said he is seeking direction from the public, providing input on “what you want to see police department do in the future.”
Bart said a January meeting is being planned that will focus on the topic of drugs. He said special anti-drug speakers including former drug addicts, a K-9 drug dog in action, and more will make it an informative meeting and an important one for the Forks community.
He said drug informants with key information on drug dealing in Forks and the West End have come forward, something that wasn’t happening in recent times. “Informants are providing information that’s going to reap great benefits in the future,” Bart commented.
Neighborhood Watch organizer Diane Winters reported that signage was in place in neighborhoods where residents have formed a group and taken training. These include Founders Way, Sherwood Forest and Forks Park. She said the Forks crime watch Facebook pages now has 530-plus followers.
Quillayute Valley School District Superintendent Diana Reaume attended the meeting and told of a recent lock-down of Forks High School on a day when a report came in that drugs were on campus. She said a drug dog - later identified by Bart as being provided by the LaPush Police Department – was brought into the high school, but wasn’t able to come up with a scent of the drugs. Reaume said having the high school classes and offices all under one roof thanks to the new addition to the school allowed for tight security. In prior years with scattered, unattached buildings that would have been impossible, she said.
Forks High School Principal Cindy Feasel said FPD officers are eating lunch with students at the high school and building up a repoirrapportre with them.
Perhaps drawing the most attention at the meeting was a display of plastic packets containing illicit drugs taken as evidence by the Forks Police Department. Attendees got to see up close black tar heroin, two varieties of methamphetamine - one white crystal the other with a yellowish tinge, a thumbnail-size marijuana bud, a vial of methadone pills that sell on the street for about $30 each.
Clallam County Department of Health & Human Services Prevention Specialist Leeann Grasseth announced a new channel of help in preventing drug and alcohol abuse in Forks. She said Forks will benefit from a 10-year, $1 million state-funded program aimed at curbing drug and alcohol abuse. Grasseth said the number of kids using drugs in Forks is a higher percentage than the state average, and the number of students contemplating suicide is also higher than the state average.
“The state wants an environmental change,” she said, comparing it to how smoking in hospitals and on airplanes has now been eliminated, providing a new outlook. Grasseth said she is forming a coalition to take action with a planning meeting set for Tuesday, Oct. 30
The program will provide what she called “gateway training” for teachers in Forks schools. That will enable them to spot signs of drug abuse or suicidal thoughts in students through their school work and class behavior. She said some students use drugs to mask depression.
Monohon provided comments throughout the meeting, saying “we’re here to fix things,” in regards to the wave of crime and drug abuse. He said in the past he felt he needed to bear the burden of informing the Forks Police Department with tips on drug abuse and drug houses as no one else was doing that. That has turned around, he said, with leads coming now from a variety of sources, taking the pressure off of him. “The police force is a lot better than they were,” he said.