Neighbors learn how to help protect community

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 17, 2005

MONTEREY&045; Drug use is a growing problem for Monterey, but residents’ eyes might help.

A Neighborhood Watch meeting Thursday night at Monterey High School gave residents a chance to look and smell the various drugs that have been found in their communities and tell them how to help.

&uot;I don’t know anything more of a threat than drugs in our community,&uot; Concordia Parish Sheriff Randy Maxwell said.

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According to Maxwell, crystal methamphetamine, what he called a &uot;high powered diet pill,&uot; is one of the biggest problems in Monterey second to alcohol abuse.

&uot;The drug and alcohol problem is not just a personal problem, it’s a family problem,&uot; he said.

Becky Clark, with her 1-year-old son Ethan, came to the meeting to hear how the Neighborhood Watch could help their community.

&uot;Hopefully it’ll cut back crime around our neighborhoods and our babies,&uot; Clark said.

Sgt. Jack Fletcher of Concordia Parish Sheriff’s office and Narcotics task force said Monterey has a slight drug problem, but it’s gradually increasing every day. He said areas where Neighborhood Watch developed had decreased the amount of crimes as a whole.

Maxwell also explained how the use of alcohol is the beginning step to later drug habits and why considering drinking to be socially acceptable can be dangerous.

&uot;Drugs have trends just like tennis shoes or beer &045; it has its own culture,&uot; he said. &uot;Drinking puts them in that culture of other drugs.&uot;

Maxwell told the crowd of about 45 people that getting involved in the community is the only way to block paths for drug dealers.

&uot;People in this room know more about the narcotics in Monterey than I do,&uot; he said.

The Neighborhood Watch program sets up a communication system to report any suspicious action in residents’ neighborhoods. Names will be anonymous and police will gradually observe the situation before any direct action is taken against suspects, Maxwell said.

The program is in its beginning stages and still organizing groups.

&uot;It’s a community-coordinated effect,&uot; Loomis said.