Forum on drug abuse awareness held

Law enforcement officers and other representatives participated in a drug abuse awareness forum recently that provided vital information and answered questions from the public, shown above. Participants were, below from left, (standing) Dr. Buffy Fegenbush, Berwick High School principal; Diane Wiltz, Safe and Drug-Free Schools coordinator; Officer Jonathan “J.P.” Henry, Berwick Police Department; Berwick Chief James Richard; Capt. John Kahl, St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division commander; Lenny Armato, St. Mary Parish Special Ed supervisor/director of Athletic Drug Testing; (seated) Kent St. Germain, director of the St. Mary Behavioral Health Clinic; Dr. Robert Bourgeois, Bourgeois Medical Clinic; Ann James with the St. Mary Parish Drug/DWI Court; and Jennifer Reasoner with the 16th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division Commander Capt. John Kahl recently participated in a drug abuse awareness forum held at Berwick High School for parents, school teachers, and school administrators.
A panel of local experts from criminal justice and health care professions offered information on how to prevent, recognize and treat drug abuse.
From the law enforcement perspective, Kahl said the priority of sheriff’s office narcotics detectives is to stop the illegal use of heroin, cocaine, synthetic drugs and prescription medications.
Kahl explained that synthetic drug use is dangerous. Typically sold in small square packets, the chemical concentration in these types of substances is often unknown to the user. Synthetic cannabinoids, known as “legal weed” or “legal bud” on the street, are illegal to possess in Louisiana because of certain chemicals contained in the synthesized substances.
The same is true of synthetic methamphetamine. Kahl said stores in St. Mary Parish are not allowed to sell these types of drugs. The majority of synthetics found during arrests in St. Mary were acquired through Internet ordering services.
Kahl also spoke on the pervasiveness of prescription medication abuse. He said prescription medication is meant for the person to whom it is prescribed. Many people are unaware that giving away prescription medicine to someone else, even a family member, is against the law.
Kahl ended his presentation with an open invitation to the group to contact the St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Division with any questions regarding drugs or suspected drug activity in our parish.
The forum was organized by school system Safe and Drug-Free Schools Coordinator Diane Wiltz. The program works to maintain a safe, disciplined, drug-free learning environment by working in coordination with law enforcement agencies in the parish to prevent violence, the illegal use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs, and to support student academic achievement.

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