Not all answers to the drug problem are found with the police or in courts, even though they will remain the first defense, Gov. Norm Bangerter told a state drug summit Thursday.
Bangerter and other state and federal drug enforcement officials addressed about 250 law enforcement officials, prosecutors and judges at a first-ever Criminal Justice Drug Summit that began in Park City Thursday. He said the agencies in the state need to work together and jointly devise a system to address the statewide problem of drug trafficking and use.Forming such a plan was a reason for the governor's drug summit. "The key is to have a forum for key players," he said. "Then we've got to have a plan of action."
The plan should include a demand-reduction strategy. "To do this we need the best talents of law enforcement, education, churches, schools and most important of all - families."
Family support for the illicit drug control effort was also stressed by William Alder, chief of congressional relations for the Drug Enforcement Administration. "Our children shouldn't have to look any farther than across the dinner table for a role model," he said.
If non-users, especially children, can be given correct information about illegal drugs; and if they can see that illegal drug use brings negative consequences, the problem will lessen, Alder said.
Negative consequences for youths may include the loss of a driver's license. For adults it may be the real likelihood of facing jail time or stiff fines for trafficking or using drugs.
Alder said he advises foreign officials who are dealing with emerging drug problems in their countries to "look at what we did and don't do it." The United States demonstrated an inability in the late 1960s and early 1970s to formulate an anti-drug posture when illegal drug use was characterized as being a "victimless crime" andthere was an emphasis on "responsible use," he said.
Those attitudes are beginning to change, as demonstrated by a 50 percent reduction in drug use by high school seniors in 1989 compared to 1979; and a drop in drug use demonstrated by a household survey that showed 23 million Americans used drugs at least once in 30 days in 1985 compared to 14.5 million in 1989.
Reducing the supply has not been as successful, and the drugs that are being blocked from entering the United States are showing up in other countries where a drug problem, especially with cocaine, is now emerging. "Spain is inundated with cocaine and cartel members. There is increased cocaine trafficking and use in Japan, a country we believe could potentially be second to America."
Alder encouraged Utah drug enforcement and criminal justice officials to engage in a "true cooperative effort" in fighting the drug war.
The drug summit continued through Friday. Bangerter said he hoped it would be the genesis for developing specific enforcement policies and defining the roles for federal, state and local agencies regarding drug enforcement activity.