Riley vows to move drug abuse program

Says he'd oversee efforts to fight addiction as Balto. County executive

October 15, 2002|By Jonathan D. Rockoff | Jonathan D. Rockoff,SUN STAFF

Saying drugs are a scourge on the county requiring an innovative response, Douglas B. Riley, the Republican candidate for county executive, has vowed to move the Office of Substance Abuse into the executive's office and vowed to stress prevention.

"This action will put drug dealers on notice that Baltimore County is not a drug-friendly place," Riley said in a position paper.

Riley would move the substance abuse office from the county Department of Health so the county executive could "personally oversee" the various efforts to combat drug abuse and drug-related crime.

In Riley's plan, the move would be part of a broader reorganization of the county's anti-drug initiatives to emphasize prevention, especially in county schools by beefing up programs educating schoolchildren about the dangers of drugs.

Riley said he also would enhance efforts, using the media, to warn adults about the dangers. And he would make it easier for the public to alert the authorities about drug activity.

"Despite our efforts, the problems remain," Riley said. "It's time to take a different tack."

The three-page plan was short on specifics. Instead, Riley recommended forming a committee of police, educators, court staff and other related parties that would make suggestions after soliciting the public's opinion.

Democrat James T. Smith Jr., who is planning to unveil his policy prescriptions for public safety today, said it would be wrong to move the substance abuse office to the county executive's suite.

Smith said he would have a "criminal-justice coordinator" managing public-safety matters - not just drug issues - from the county executive's office.

To combat the drug problem, Smith said he would try to increase cooperation with Baltimore City officials to crack down on drug trafficking. And he would work with area hospitals to get them government grants to treat addicts.

"I want the hospitals to be the first line of attack," Smith said.

Arrests for possession of marijuana, heroin, crack and other narcotics dropped in the county last year 30.6 percent, to 263, county police said.

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