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AW Drug Stopper Program’s Aim: To Stop Trafficking And Overdoses

AW Drug Stopper signs will be placed around the Anthony Wayne area to provide quick information on how to report drug sales or use. Pictured are Whitehouse Police Chief Mark McDonough, Awake Community Coalition Director Amy Barrett, Waterville Township Police Chief Richard Bingham, Lucas County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Matt Luettke and Waterville Police Chief Dave LaGrange.

 

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — The 30 new blue and white AW Drug Stoppers signs popping up throughout the area are a sign of the times – and a tool to help stop the flow of drug trafficking and heroin overdose deaths. Heroin and other drugs are in the Anthony Wayne community and wreaking havoc on lives, area police chiefs agree. “We’re lucky that we have no street corner sales, but we’re not so foolish to think that drugs are not here,” Waterville Chief Dave LaGrange said. Citizens and council members regularly ask Whitehouse Chief Mark McDonough about possible drug use and sales. Waterville Township Police Chief Richard Bingham said the No. 1 question he hears from residents is, “What are you doing about the drug problem?” Gathered in the Water-ville Township Police conference room earlier this week, Bingham, LaGrange, Mc-Donough, Capt. Matt Luettke of the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office, and Amy Barrett, executive director of Awake Community Coali-tion, looked over the new signs and discussed which area intersections would be ideal to reach the most motorists. Monclova, Providence, Swanton and Waterville townships, plus Waterville and Whitehouse, will all have signs. The goal, said Bing-ham, is to provide quick information to drivers on how to anonymously report local drug use or sales, knowing that the tip will go to the appropriate local law enforcement agency. With AW Drug Stopper, family and friends can also ask for help and links to agencies that can intervene before it’s too late, Bingham said. AW Drug Stopper is easy to use: • Text AWHELP to 72727. • Call (419) 740-6998. • Visit www.awawake.org or www.awchamber.com. Those who call or text will be led to either report suspicious activity that may be drug trafficking, or to ask for help for someone using drugs. Online, visitors can fill out a form and include detailed information. All tips are anonymous, although providing contact information is optional. Once tips are received, the appropriate law enforcement agency will respond. Having two K-9 officers in the area will certainly help in following up, Bingham said. If someone is fighting an opioid addiction, the sheriff’s DART addiction response team can be there to help. “We may go two months without a tip or get a tip that leads to a car full of drugs,” Bingham said. The $4,000 in donations from area municipalities will be used to pay for the signs, marketing materials such as a banner for the high school football games, fliers for area grocers to put in bags, and window clings for businesses. A large portion will be reserved for reward money for tips that lead to the arrest and conviction of drug traffickers. “We’ve got a problem with opioids. This is just another tool to have,” LaGrange said. “Not only can someone report drug trafficking, but they can call in and get help for someone who needs intervention.”

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