Program hopes to help halt drug abuse |

Program hopes to help halt drug abuse

by Sharlene Irete

A Jacks Valley resident hopes a drug education program that he founded in Orange County will reduce crime in Douglas County. Ideally, if the program is successful, it would no longer be needed within a few years.

“There was a 17 percent reduction in crime in Orange County eight years after its inception,” said Harold Willard about the Drug Use is Life Abuse program, which started in Orange County, Calif., as a means to reduce drug-related crime.

“I was on the Sheriff’s Advisory Board and was one of the founders of Drug Use is Life Abuse in Orange County 19 years ago,” said Willard.

“I thought that I could bring that program here. The sheriffs here are tremendously supportive of us.”

“The objective is to get the message out that we want a drug-free community,” said Sheriff Ron Pierini. “That’s what it’s about.”

“We want to get the point across,” said Willard.

Drug Use is Life Abuse was introduced in Douglas County to support the Sheriff’s Advisory Council in response to the growing problems that drug abuse inflicts on society.

“The advisory council first started as a non-profit organization to assist the sheriff in providing equipment, training and education.” said Pierini. “It’s a group of business people who support law enforcement and want to do their part in providing the means and tools to do our job.”

The advisory council raised over $50,000 for equipment for officers to use in training and to elevate their safety.

“We bought a computerized fingerprinting system, supported bullet-proof vest upgrades, bought new digital recorders for interviews and bought a non-lethal weapon used on out-of-control inmates,” said Pierini.

Drug problems amount to high costs to support law enforcement agencies and also to the lives of people who are affected.

“People don’t realize how serious the problem is – one child involved with drugs equals 10 family members involved,” said Pierini.

“Sixty percent of arrests are drug- or alcohol-related and 90 percent of people in jail are there because of drug-related crime,” he said.

Pierini and Willard hope to get the community involved to raise funds and coordinate with the current Drug Awareness Resistance Education and the Gang Resistance Education and Training programs taught to fifth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students.

“We have the GREAT training, but we need something for high school kids,” said Pierini. “It’s great that schools allow the DARE program but we need to get it out of the schools and get the community involved. It will be easier for success.”

The advisory council is planning to work with the Douglas County’s Partnership of Community Resources in sponsoring a methamphetamine abuse conference in January.

Since 1992, the non-profit organization has worked to support youth prevention programs such as Teens Against Tobacco Use and the alcohol awareness club, Stand Tall Don’t Fall.

Cheryl Bricker, director of the Partnership of Community Resources, said that she’s looking forward to the sheriff’s support.

“It’s the sheriff’s advice to get everyone on the same bandwagon, a whole network,” Bricker said. “We’re excited that he is taking an interest and promoting this Friends and Family Night.”

Friends and Family Prevention Night is a free event to educate families about the dangers of drug, alcohol and tobacco use. The upcoming meeting features methamphetamine abuse.

“The sheriff was very interested in sponsoring the meth symposium. It’s a collective effort to reach more people to hear about what we can do to make this a safe and drug-free community,” said Bricker.

Friends and Family Prevention Night is Jan. 26 from 6-7:30 p.m. at Carson Valley Methodist Church, 1375 Centerville Lane in the Gardnerville Ranchos. Dinner will be served and babysitting provided. Call the partnership at 782-8611 for more information.

“The goal is to convey the message to all in the county as often and in any way,” said Willard.

For information about the Drug Use is Life Abuse program on the Web, go to For bumper stickers, call Harold Willard at 267-4300. Bumper stickers are also available at Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, 1625 Eighth St, Minden. Information at the sheriff’s office: 782-9903.

What: Partnership of Community Resources Friends and Family Prevention Night

Where: Carson Valley United Methodist Church

1375 Centerville Lane, Gardnerville Ranchos

When: Jan. 26, 6-7:30 p.m.

Info: 782-8611