With all the recent drug-related arrests in our northcentral West Virginia region, it appears the war on this type of crime is far from won. That can be disheartening for law enforcement officials and for the communities they are entrusted to protect.
One glance at The Inter-Mountain, and it's easy to see how prevalent drug-related crimes are, especially as of late. Coverage of these stories is important. It tells of the suspected who, what, when, where, why and how of the local drug trade.
Our goal never is to glorify such illicit activity or to focus on the negative. The paper's good-news content far outweighs crime news on a regular basis. However, we as a community cannot play the proverbial ostrich and poke our head in the sand, hoping to ignore this drug problem.
Methamphetamine, bath salts and marijuana often are among the drugs making headlines. According to recent news from the West Virginia State Police, there is at least some progress being made with regard to one of these substances.
Current data shows the state police is on track to seize and destroy up to 200,000 marijuana plants statewide this year, according to The Associated Press. That would top the 2011 total of 185,510 plants, the report states, with Sgt. Mike Smith telling the Charleston Daily Mail that about 150,000 pot plants have been destroyed so far this year.
That, indeed, is good news, and those figures don't count the efforts of local city police and county sheriff's deputies. Clearly, we still have a long way to go toward eradicating the use and sale of illegal drugs as well as their cultivation and manufacture.
But, if troopers are able to meet their goal and destroy nearly 200,000 marijuana plants this year, just think of how many thousands of pounds of pot will have been kept out of the criminal drug trade. Communities may not be winning the war on drugs just yet, but it's nice to know our crime fighters are able to make a dent.
Every arrest, every seizure helps. It sends a message to those who are dealing drugs or thinking about it that there is great risk associated with this illegal activity. Citizens can help send a message, too. They can stand up to drugs and take action by reporting suspicious activity to a local law enforcement agency or national tip line, such as WeTip. The nonprofit, confidential tip line can be accessed by calling toll free 1-800-47-DRUGS or logging on to www.wetip.com.
According to the site, "the basic purpose of WeTip Inc. is to provide an absolutely anonymous crime reporting resource to residents, students and businesses throughout the entire nation. WeTip has been established by citizens and for citizens, who have information regarding a crime but fear reprisal from the criminal they are turning in. WeTip has been created as an effective tool for law enforcement, not to circumvent law enforcement, but to help law enforcement and corporate security investigations."
The site states the core values that have formed WeTip's foundation include:
Again, it is going to take all parties working together - law enforcement, public officials, lawmakers, the legal system and neighbors just like you - to effect positive change. With your help, police may not have to win this war on drugs one pot plant at a time.