Westminster mayor 'amazed' by rise of drug cases

February 12, 1993|By Bill Talbott | Bill Talbott,Staff Writer

Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown told the Carroll County Drug and Alcohol Advisory Council yesterday that he is "amazed at the significant increase in drugs in the area."

"These drugs can lead to shootings, as we saw on Center Street recently," Mr. Brown said, referring to the Jan. 28 shooting death of Gregory Lamont Howard, 22, which city police described as drug-related.

"This young man was affiliated with his church, sang with the church choir, but had been associated with drugs for a long period of time," the mayor told the council at its meeting at Westminster High School.

"The community is upset," he said. "This is not a Westminster problem or a county or a state problem, it is a national problem. The same level of violence as seen in Baltimore and in Washington is coming to Westminster, and it's an unfortunate situation.

"In the entire country in 1989, 147 machine gun-type weapons were confiscated, and the following year that number went up to 850 and is still on the rise. We have one of those, a Tec 9, in the police property room. And it was confiscated right here in Westminster," he said.

"We have 17- to 20-year-old drug dealers with guns and lots of money. It is alarming."

Joanne M. Hayes, anti-drug coordinator for Carroll County public schools, told the group that recent figures indicate drug use by the middle class seems to be decreasing.

George Geise, director of the Youth Services Bureau, said the community must adopt the concept that "children are raised by the entire village and not just by the parent or parents."

Officials at the meeting also said numerous programs are being started in Carroll County to keep students from abusing drugs and alcohol. One is "Project Graduation," in which new high school graduates get together and hold parties without the use of alcohol or drugs.

Angie Diehlman, who started the program in Charles County eight years ago and has been instrumental in bringing it to Carroll, said the first program began with a 42 percent attendance rate among the graduates. It increased to a high of 92 percent attendance last year, she said.

Ms. Hayes said national records show that 20 percent to 25 percent of public school students have at least one alcoholic parent.

This means that about 5,000 students in Carroll County are trying to cope with the problem in their homes, she said.

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