For the Lincoln Police Department, there are a variety of tools
they are using to combat the drug problem locally. Not the least of
which, is address drug prevention through youth programs.
Greenslate said the department first has the D.A.R.E. program for
local sixth-graders. The city's D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance
Education) officer, works with youngsters to teach them how to say
no to drugs and alcohol, and encourage them to live a substance-free
On the high school level, the city is going into its second school
year with an officer being assigned to the Lincoln Community High
School full-time. Greenslate said the decision to put a full-time
officer at the high school was a collaboration between the city and
high school with both parties contributing to financial support of
the full-time officer.
The safety officer at the high school, Greenslate said, is there
primarily to offer security and protection for the students.
However, the result has been that the officer is a trusted official
in the school whom kids can come to as a confidant.
Greenslate emphasized that this was a side benefit of the safety
officer, “I want to make it clear, we are not there to arrest kids,
we are there to keep them safe and give them someone they can talk
In addition to working at the youth level, the police department
also collaborates with several other organizations to help fight and
prevent drug abuse. Greenslate noted the department works with the
Healthy Communities Partnership in Logan County and is also part of
the Drug Court program. It also works with the Narcotics Anonymous
and Alcoholics Anonymous, and helps addicts get help through the
Tazwood Wellness Center that has an office in Lincoln.
Greenslate said that for the addict, the best solution is not always
incarceration. The very best thing, he said is to help an addict
become drug-free. One alternative to incarceration for addicts is
the Drug Court. Drug Court was adopted by the state of Illinois in
2002 as an alternative to jail for minors.
According to a news release published in LDN in 2002, the drug court
program was described as follows:
“The intention of the
law is to reduce drug abuse among minors. Under the law, a minor may
be admitted into a drug court program only upon the agreement of the
prosecutor and minor and with the approval of the court; a minor is
excluded from the program if the crime committed is violent in
nature. The law also requires drug court programs to maintain a
network of substance abuse treatment programs representing a
continuum of graduated substance abuse treatment options
commensurate with the needs of minors. If the minor violates the
conditions of the drug court program, the court may impose
reasonable punishments on the minor.”
that Drug Court has seen some successes, but also a few failures. In
essence though, he feels like it is a good program that is providing
help to several people.
“Our goal is to help people, not just put them in jail. Putting an
addict in jail does not solve the problem,” Greenslate said.
The Tazwood program is another alternative for drug abusers.
According to their website, the Tazwood Wellness Center has a
mission “to promote wellness and recovery through counseling,
advocacy and education. Tazwood will always adhere to the highest
standards and strive for the best interest of those we serve.”
Angela Stoltzenburg of the Healthy Communities Partnership in Logan
County also commented on the work that organization is doing.
Partnership is a local collaborative effort funded by the Abraham
Lincoln Healthcare Foundation. We support and collaborate local
efforts to create the healthiest community in America. While we have
much work to do, we have several initiatives in progress to address
high priority health needs in our community. 5 2 1 0 is an obesity
prevention campaign we currently have underway to address the high
obesity rate in Logan County.
In addition, we are working with the health department and local
schools to encourage coordinated school health to make the healthy
choice the easy choice for our young people as they learn lifelong
We promote substance-free lifestyles through community education
events and coordinate a drug recycling program initiative which has
provided free and safe drug disposal options to residents throughout
“The Healthy Communities Partnership represents the best of Logan
County: the spirit to partner and collaborate with one another to
improve the health and the quality of life for the people and
communities we serve.”
And the final question, what is
the city doing to catch and prosecute hard-core offenders?
Greenslate said there is a lot of work goes into a solid arrest, it
doesn’t happen over-night. In order to assure a conviction, the
department has first to do its job by making error free arrests.
Greenslate said the department has under-cover officers continually
gathering information and putting together solid cases. In the past
two years several arrests have been made, and he said, cases are
being built, and more arrests will be made in the future.
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“Making a solid arrest takes research. It is time-consuming,
requires certain resources, intelligence gathering, and it all
has to be done in a specific order.” Greenslate said it isn’t
good enough to just have probable cause; he has to have
evidence, and everything also has to be done in such a manner as
to protect the constitutional rights of the suspect.
addition to local partnerships, the city department is also part of
a regional drug task force. Greenslate said this partnership a very
important part of being successful in battling drug abuse in
Lincoln. The Central Illinois Enforcement Group (CIEG) includes
Cass, Christian, Logan, Mason, Menard, Morgan and Sangamon Counties,
and coincides with the Illinois State Police District 9. Greenslate
said that through the task force his department has access to shared
information from the state police as well as all the counties
actively involved in the CIEG. Additionally the task force offers
some financial resources as well as manpower for investigations.
Through the task force, the city of Lincoln has access to federal
agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), and the Federal
Bureau of Investigations (FBI).
Greenslate expressed appreciation to the Lincoln City Council. He
said the council provided a valuable tool when in spite of budget
constraints, it came up with the funds to hire an additional officer
so the department could become part of the CIEG.
Mayor Keith Snyder is also pleased about the membership in the CIEG
and believes it is beneficial to the community.
Snyder offered up
the following comments on the drug issue in Lincoln and the value of
the CIEG and the Lincoln Police Department.
“No one would ever
deny that there are drug issues in Lincoln. Our police department
deals with such matters on a weekly basis, and they would be the
first to tell you that the economic strains caused by the recession
that began six years ago have exacerbated those issues. As a city,
though, we haven't stuck our heads in the sand.
“Two years ago the Lincoln City Council dipped into its general fund
budget to add an officer to the police department so we could assign
one of our veteran street patrol officers to the Central Illinois
Enforcement Group. This enforcement group is comprised of state,
county, and municipal officers from across Illinois State Police
District 9, which includes Cass, Christian, Logan, Mason, Menard,
Morgan and Sangamon counties. The organization works with local,
state, and federal agencies to combat drug-related crimes.
“We cannot release information on pending arrests, or even on all
successful arrests, made by the Enforcement Group for fear of
compromising ongoing cases. Rest assured however, the Group has an
extremely impressive track record in reducing all drug crimes. Drug
issues aren't limited to one municipality or one county. This
regional effort not only makes the most sense operationally, but has
had the most success in fighting the matter.”
Greenslate noted that on the local “officer level,” Lincoln police
officers are involved in ongoing education and training that helps
them build better cases and stronger convictions.
In summary, Chief Greenslate feels that his department is very well
equipped to address the issue of drugs in the city of Lincoln.
And as the final link in the chain, Greenslate said the Logan County
State's Attorney, Jonathan Wright and his office work well with the
city, and do a great job of seeking and winning convictions.
Is the trend of drug abuse rising?
Yes, it is, Greenslate said. But he added, it is rising everywhere,
not just in Lincoln.
Can it be stopped?
Probably not in its entirety. The cycle begins, and it evolves. The
bottom line is, regardless of where you are, whenever one drug
dealer is arrested, convicted, and sentenced; there is another one
ready to take his or her place.
But, Greenslate said, that does not mean we have an epidemic. A
Greenslate concluded, "Lincoln is no worse than any other town,
probably not as bad as many. We have a lot of people working hard to
make Lincoln a better place. And they will continue to do so because
Lincoln is a good town, a good place to live, and a good place to
raise a family.”
[By NILA SMITH]