Education, outreach and Prop 19

By Brandon HENSLEY

Glendale Police chief Ron DePompa lashed out last week against a measure that could legalize certain amounts of marijuana in the state.
Speaking at a Town Hall meeting Sept. 15 in the community rooms at Verdugo Hills Hospital, DePompa called Proposition 19 “ill-conceived” and dangerous to the foothill area.
If passed on the Nov. 2 ballot, the proposition would allow people over 21 to possess and cultivate certain amounts of the drug for personal use. Local governments would have to tax and penalize use at their own discretion.
DePompa acknowledged voting against Prop 19 would not prevent teenagers from obtaining the drug, but passing the measure would over-tax the department’s workforce, which is stretched thin.
“It will create a significant burden on us in terms of local municipality that has to regulate, enforce and deal with the unintended consequences of that … bad law,” he said.
DePompa’s speech and slideshow presentation was part of a bigger drug awareness picture Glendale police tried to convey at the meeting, mostly to concerned parents. Crescenta Valley has had its share drug-related problems – specifically in its schools – for several years, and it has become a major concern for residents and police.
“[CV] certainly has its share of substance abuse issues up here,” DePompa told the audience. “If you want to stick your head in the sand and not believe it, so be it. But that’s not the reality.”
In addition, DePompa said if the proposition is passed, schools and workplaces could lose up to $9.5 billion in grant funding to the state. Federal funding requires that those places be drug-free.
“I know as your police chief it scares me to death,” DePompa said. “Do your part as responsible community members and vote against it.”
Sgt. Tom Lorenz spoke after DePompa, and warned parents of the relative ease that kids can get drugs, because many times it comes within a household.
“Frankly, the biggest problem in the Unites States today is not the drug dealer at school or on the street, it is that medicine cabinet that you have in your home,” Lorenz said.
He talked about opiates, which include Vicodin and Oxycontin, which can be a regular part of a parent’s cabinet. “Might as well be heroin,” he said. “It’s the same thing. It’s in the same family.”
Lorenz also mentioned Robo-tripping, in which kids can get high off of cough syrup, and played a video of several kids who recorded themselves doing just that.
“We have to be parents too,” Lorenz said. “And unless we educate ourselves, and really understand what we knew when we were teenagers, what [kids] know today as teenagers, we will have a better community.”
Lastly, officer Joe Allen spoke about drug paraphernalia and the ways kids are trying to stay one step ahead of detection. Allen demonstrated the ways kids use different bongs for marijuana use, and soda cans and empty light bulbs for methamphetamine use.
Allen also talked about how they smoke heroin off of tin foil.  He said asking different users on which side to use will elicit different answers.
“The information that they learn is always kind of interesting,” Allen said. “They say you should smoke on the shiny side because it’s bad for you. The other guy says smoke on the dull side.”
Allen continued:  “If I find foil observable in anybody’s car, and I don’t see it in a bag of groceries, I’m searching the car.”
Allen showed video he shot from his cellphone of users who were high while being questioned by him, including a 24-year-old male who had taken pills inside of a fast food restaurant.
At the end of the meeting, Howard Hakes, president of the CV Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition, which is comprised of parents and other community members, announced they have received a federal grant for $125,000 over the next five years.
“We have some hope here, with some prevention, with some things out here that we could put in place for our kids,” Hakes said. “We’re going to do some great things in the next five years.”